It was a closed-door briefing last month, in which lawmakers were told of a stunning drop in intelligence, that suddenly broke the Democratic opposition to a new spying bill passed last week, the New York Times reports. The Times does a post mortem on the 11th hour passage of the bill—one Democrats had resisted for months—that broadens the White House's power to conduct warrantless eavesdropping.
The rush to pass the bill before Congress recessed was triggered by a report shared with congressmen that said eavesdropping on foreign communications had declined 75% in recent months. Democrats who had held out in an effort to force the White House to turn over documents on a now-defunct spying program did an about-face. To get its way, the White House "very skillfully played the fear card," said one lawmaker.