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Analysis: September's Battle Lines

Council on Foreign Relations

September 4, 2007
Prepared by: Robert McMahon

Congressional chambers will echo with talk of Iraq (The Hill) as lawmakers return from recess this week, but Congress’ agenda is likely to be crowded with other tough foreign policy issues as well. Legislation on domestic surveillance and energy security will pose particular challenges, with Republicans and Democrats facing internal party rifts on both issues. The biggest internecine battle, reports the Washington Post, is expected to be over warrantless wiretapping.

Leaders of the Democratic-majority Congress received an earful from liberal members of their party after moderate House and Senate Democrats helped approve the Protect America Act before the break. The legislation expanded warrantless eavesdropping on suspected terrorists contacting sources in the United States through Internet and phone communications. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to quickly revisit the measure, which expires in six months. Separately, senior Democratic lawmakers want to probe possible wrongdoing by the office of outgoing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in initiating the surveillance program, a matter the Justice Department's inspector general (IHT) says he will investigate. Democrats are also expected to push for closing the prison for “war on terror” detainees in Guantanamo Bay, as well as to press for Congress to approve giving terrorist suspects the right to court trials. Top Bush administration officials have said they would like to close the prison, but the issue is complicated by the difficulty in resettling inmates in their countries of origin, says State Department Legal Counsel John Bellinger.


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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.



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