"The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials," the Washington Post reported on December 1. "The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said."
When California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi became House Speaker with the election of a Democratic majority in 2006, hopes ran high in some quarters that the feisty grandmother of seven would lead an investigation into the Bush administration’s actions involving the United States in the Iraq War.
On July 4 of this year, an old patriot passed away. Former five-term North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, retired since 2002, finally succumbed at 86 after a long career on the forefront of American conservatism during the Cold War and thereafter.
The bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow the government to engage in massive collection of American citizens’ communications without a search warrant, clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment, is moving forward in the Senate, after having been passed by the House on June 20. In February, the Senate had passed similar legislation (see Senate vote #25 in “The Freedom Index” in this issue of TNA), but the House did not do likewise and the legislation stalled. More recently a compromise between the Bush administration and congressional leaders breathed new life into the legislation.
During a recent hearing of the House Judiciary Committee dealing with rising oil prices, John Hofmeister, the president of Shell Oil, testified: “I can guarantee to the American people, because of the inaction of the United States Congress, ever increasing prices, unless the demand comes down — and the five dollars [a gallon gas] will look like a very low price in the years to come if we are prohibited from finding new reserves, new opportunities to increase supplies.”
On Monday, June 2, the U.S. Senate began deliberating on the Climate Security Act (S. 3036), in what many hoped would mark the start of a historic debate. But progress was thwarted by partisan bickering over judicial nominations and by procedural maneuvers, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s insistence that all 492 pages be read into the record, which took more than eight hours.
In May Minnesota and Alaska became the eighth and ninth states whose legislatures have rejected Real ID, joining Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. A dozen more states have approved resolutions calling for the costs of the Real ID program to be fully covered by Congress or the act repealed.
The Washington, D.C., lobbying law firm Dickstein Shapiro announced on May 31 that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) is joining the firm as a senior adviser.
Undeterred by record cold temperatures worldwide for the winter of 2007-2008 and recent admissions by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization that global temperatures have been in decline for the past decade and will continue to drop through most of 2008, politicians at the local, state, and federal levels are continuing to push for more carbon dioxide emission controls.