The White House has experienced difficulties moving its ill-conceived national security priorities through Congress. Yesterday, the Senate passed legislation banning waterboarding, defying a Bush veto threat. Also, House leaders have said they will not approve the Protect America Act with immunity for telecom companies.
After the Senate banned waterboarding yesterday, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino claimed the “left wing” was trying to overtake the intelligence community:
They’ll have to ask themselves, ‘Do you trust the intelligence community more than you trust Democrats who are beholden to their left-wing?’ And that’s the debate that this country is going to have.
Perino also attacked Congress for holding a contempt of Congress vote on White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers instead of expanding Bush’s surveillance powers:
The American people will find it baffling that on a day that House leaders are trying to put off passing critical legislation to keep us safer from the threat of foreign terrorists overseas, they are spending scarce time to become the first congress in history to bring contempt charges against a president’s chief of staff and lawyer. … The ‘people’s House’ should reflect the priorities of the American people, not the fantasies of left-wing bloggers.
The line is a familiar one. When the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington revealed that the White House had destroyed millions of e-mails, Perino shrugged them off as the accusations of a “left-wing” group — but she later backtracked.
Congress’s priorities are reflected by the will of the public. A recent CNN poll showed that 68 percent of Americans said waterboarding was torture, and 58% said the U.S. should not use the technique. A January ACLU poll found 57 percent of likely voters opposed telecom immunity, compared to just a third who supported it.