Democrats and Republicans who co-sponsored Iran sanctions legislation deserve special praise for enduring ad hominem accusations from the president that they were trying to get votes. That lame attack suggests the White House doesn’t have the better. In any case, as a Republican senior aide noted, “It’s ridiculous on its face since this bill is led by a Democratic chairman.”
But the winners this week are two lawmakers who stood up to the National Security Agency (NSA) hysterics and the unwise panel report suggesting a long list of changes to a program in which no abuses were found. The heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), did precisely what we expect of legislators who hold these critical chairs.
Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams wrote that if another terrorist attack occurs, “we would find ourselves asking ‘who were the fools who stopped us from collecting the data we need? Who stopped us from collecting and connecting the dots?’… There’s a kind of hysteria developing this week, and only two things can stop it. One is leadership. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers are supplying some, refusing to be stampeded.” They are up against a phalanx of far-right and far-left lawmakers who either don’t understand or won’t acknowledge that there hasn’t been abuse and that the contents of communications are highly protected (as opposed to metadata). Feinstein and Rogers will need all the intestinal fortitude they can muster.
So for all that we say, well done chairmen Feinstein and Rogers.