House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pictured at a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, has refused to allow a floor vote on a bill that updates surveillance for the age of terror.

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Michele Bachmann: Democratic leaders stand in the way of Americans' safety

  • Article by: MICHELE BACHMANN
  • March 14, 2008 - 6:41 PM

For nearly one month, American intelligence has been crippled.

We are fighting terrorism with one eye shut and one hand tied behind our backs.

One of the critical tools that has allowed us to keep the homeland safe after 9/11 has been the Protect America Act. It updated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to deal with new, deadly challenges in this age of terror -- enabling intelligence services to immediately listen to phone calls made between foreign terrorists.

But on Feb. 16, the Protect America Act expired -- even though the Senate voted to reauthorize it with a strong, bipartisan vote, and even though the same bipartisan support exists in the House as well.

Why, then, has it expired?

Because the House Democratic leadership has simply refused to allow a vote -- knowing it will pass. In fact, 21 House Democrats wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to bring the bill to the floor.

While this inaction may score cheap political points with the fringe elements of the Democratic caucus, American families are needlessly imperiled. This is not an exaggeration. This is not hyperbole. This is fact -- confirmed by our intelligence community and agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The enemy that attacked our nation on Sept. 11, 2001, is part of a vast global network with terror cells stretching across the globe -- an enemy convinced that their ticket to heaven will be written in our blood.

Since 2001, attack after attack has been averted -- including a plot to destroy American-bound airliners with liquid explosives. Indeed, last year, the Heritage Foundation compiled a list of 19 confirmed terror plots against American targets that had been thwarted.

Those 19 thwarted attacks represent untold thousands of American lives saved; of families, communities and cities kept intact, and of a nation kept whole.

"Expiration of [the Protect America Act] would lead to the loss of important tools the intelligence community relies on to discover the plans of those who wish us harm," warned the director of national intelligence. Those warnings fell on Nancy Pelosi's deaf ears.

The No. 1 job of the American government is to protect her citizens. House Democratic leaders, in forcing the expiration of the FISA updates, have shirked that most fundamental responsibility -- the safety of the American people.

Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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