The Surveillance State, courtesy of the Democratic leadership

After months of wrangling, Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress struck a deal on Thursday to overhaul the rules on the government's wiretapping powers and provide what amounts to legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in President Bush's program of eavesdropping without warrants after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The deal, expanding the government's powers to spy on terrorism suspects in some major respects, would strengthen the ability of intelligence officials to eavesdrop on foreign targets. It would also allow them to conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined that important national security information would otherwise be lost. If approved, as appears likely, the agreement would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years.
So - the US is officially a surveillance state.

Also read:
Dan Froomkin - Follow the Leader -

What do you think about the Democratic leadership's calculations in all of this? Obviously they're seeking a repeat of the last election, where they pledged to oppose the Bush- administration, but then backed out of it in practice. Up until the point where they fronted more radical bills than the republican majority managed to get on the table, in their attempts to appease the leader.

I sure can see how they would assume this would be useful - I.e., that those who support them will vote for them anyway, but caving to the Bush- administration will also net them some democrats who would otherwise side with the republicans. And who might, when November comes, upset things and split the party.

Is it worth permanently turning into a surveillance state? That is, a state where the government decides in secret who shall be under surveillance, with no oversight?