Others aren't so sure. McConnell had sought certain specific changes in FISA for months, out of frustration that a FISA Court ruling in the spring had suddenly required the NSA to obtain warrants for foreign communications, something that FISA had never previously protected. But at last week's negotiations, McConnell expanded his desired revisions and occasionally vacillated on what he found acceptable in Democratic proposals. From The L.A. Times:
...McConnell maneuvered himself into the position of passing judgment on each proposal that surfaced during the week, angering Democrats by declaring their bills inadequate.
He also engaged in extensive negotiations with Democrats, during which his apparent changes of position left some members suggesting on the House floor that the intelligence director had become a puppet for the White House.
At one point, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) expressed bewilderment that McConnell had issued a statement rejecting the Democrats' approach one day after he had told members that their measure "significantly enhances America's security."
Referring to McConnell's subsequent criticism of the Democrats' bill, Hoyer said, "I will tell you, it doesn't sound like the Adm. McConnell with whom I have talked over the past few weeks."
In order to combat Democratic charges that he's gone into the pocket of the Bush administration -- the spy chief is supposed to remain blissfully apolitical, a position rarely achieved since the creation of modern U.S. intelligence -- McConnell granted an interview to the New York Times's Mark Mazzetti, in which he said his job is to "speak truth to power."
âI am not a policy maker, and Iâm not a political figure,â he said. âMy job is to seek ground truth with as much clarity and understanding as possible.â
Democrats could easily be looking for their own scapegoat after proving unable to stop the administration's version of FISA reform from becoming law. The L.A. Times notes that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) cited McConnell's assurances to defend her vote for the Protect America Act. But with the act's provisions set to expire in six months -- and Democrats already talking about revisiting the issue after the August recess -- McConnell isn't going to receive the benefit of the doubt during his next round of negotiations.