President Bush on Thursday stood by his demand for legal protection for phone companies that help the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists, saying he sees no prospect of a compromise with congressional Democrats on the subject….
Asked about a potential deal with Democrats, Bush said, “I would just tell you there’s no compromise on whether these phone companies get liability protection.” The administration says it needs the help of the phone companies for its post Sept. 11, 2001, surveillance.
Bush said his strategy for breaking the deadlock on the surveillance bill will be to keep talking about why it should be passed on his terms. “The American people understand we need to be listening to the enemy,” he said.
Update: Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), ranking member of the intelligence committee, echoes the sentiment in a statement:
âLast week, the House Democratic leadership had the opportunity to put national security first but they chose instead to leave town for a twelve day vacation. Todayâs so-called bicameral staff meeting is nothing more than a partisan attempt by Democratic staff at the 11th hour to dismantle the bipartisan compromise that a majority of the Senate and the House support.
âThe time for excuses and more meetings is over. House Democratic leaders have had months to work in a bipartisan fashion yet they have done nothing but stall. If they want to work in good faith they should give their members the opportunity to pass the bipartisan compromise that protects civil liberties and gives our terror fighters the tools they need to keep American families safe.â
So the Republicans have done their negotiating — and it resulted in the Senate bill, which contains retroactive immunity. The negotiating is over.