…From The Wall Street Journal editorial board, on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent “offensive” against the warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists. By scuttling a bi-partisan compromise to extend the surveillance program, Ms. Pelosi and her allies have not only suspended reality—they’ve endangered the nation’s security as well. As the Journal observes:
For the next 9/11 Commission, we nominate the first witness: Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He's the man now telling everyone to chill out, take it easy, there's nothing to worry about, after his fellow Democrats last week scuttled a bipartisan compromise on warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda.
"It is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for actions that happened years ago," Mr. Reyes wrote in a letter to President Bush. By "actions" he means the cooperation with U.S. intelligence by private telecom companies after 9/11, for which the companies now face more than 40 lawsuits.
Mr. Reyes's letter is a political keeper -- all the more so because it is so divorced from intelligence reality. Nearly every other professional says that Friday night's expiration of the wiretap law will do significant security harm.
Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, on the Senate floor last week: "What people have to understand around here is that the quality of the intelligence we are going to be receiving is going to be degraded. It is going to be degraded. It is already going to be degraded as telecommunications companies lose interest."
Reyes’s letter also affirms that he was a poor choice to lead the House intel committee, despite past service on the panel. In selecting Reyes, Ms. Pelosi bypassed a pair of better candidates, California Congresswoman Jane Harman, and Georgia Representative Sanford Bishop. But the speaker preferred a political ally for the intelligence post, and she found one in Mr. Reyes, who gladly affirmed Ms. Pelosi’s feckless position on the wiretapping bill.
Senator Rockefeller is understandably upset with the actions of House Democrats--and well he should be. In a shameless bit of pandering to the party’s radical left and trial lawyer constituencies, Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reyes and their cohorts undermined a piece of carefully-crafted legislation, aimed at sustaining the flow of intelligence information on suspected terrorists.
But such concerns (apparently) mean little to Speaker Pelosi and her intel committee chair. And that raises a larger, equally disturbing question, articulated by Bill Kristol in his latest column in The New York Times: Is this generation of Democrats capable of governing? On the essential issues of intelligence and national security, the answer seems painfully obvious.