view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Friday, February 17, 2006

it's not obstruction of justice if you're a republican

Momentum for a congressional inquiry into President Bush's domestic spying operation, which had seemed likely two months ago, appears to have dropped dramatically.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a proposed investigation as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said he had reached an agreement with the White House to pursue legislation establishing clearer rules for the controversial program.

Why does this guy get to determine whether or not the Nation gets to find out about the illegality of the president's authorization of domestic surveillance? (as if there is any doubt about that, go read Glenn)

I like Arianna's take on the guy and his truly birdshit-loony appearance on last week's Meet the Press:

Sen. Pat Roberts, who, I kid you not, tried to make a point about the NSA scandal to his fellow panelists -- former Senator Tom Daschle, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) -- by pulling out a bottle of pills and admonishing the group that "everybody ought to take a memory pill."


But while Roberts may have nailed the memory problem, he was not so good on the solution. Because if his own memory is evidence of the powers of his pills, he should demand a memory-pill recall.

Senator Roberts, as you may know, is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and, as such, was one of the few legislators briefed by the administration on its warrantless spying program. So you might expect him to get at least the most basic facts about the program right. Especially when he bragged early on in the show that he "knew exactly what was going on."

Then why was he still claiming that the program was just about "phone calls from terror cells"? That's simply false. Of the thousands of calls monitored under the warrantless eavesdropping program, fewer than 10 a year have been suspicious enough even to prompt further investigation.

Roberts was also dead wrong about the time constraints following the FISA law would impose on the President, claiming that it takes "five days... eight days..." to obtain a warrant. Is there anybody who has remotely followed this story who by now doesn't know that the FISA law allows the President to begin a wiretap without a warrant and continue it for 72 hours before asking for a retroactive warrant?

This asshole, who is clearly SENILE AS HELL, gets to decide whether or not Dubya gets his ass handed to him and thrown in the slammer where he belongs.

The corporate media, of course, happily annoints republican almost-dissenters as the Saviours and Holy Defenders of Truth and Reason. Fox "News" carries this piece from the AP:
The decision to give Congress more information came as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced he was drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the administration's monitoring of terror-related international communications when one party to the call is in the United States.

It also came as Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

And even Raw Story fell for Sensenbrenner's stunt:
The Republican Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has issued 51 questions to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on President Bush's warrantless wiretap program.

The letter, issued to Gonzales today and acquired by RAW STORY, demands answers to myriad legal questions on the program, which involved eavesdropping on Americans' calls overseas. Sensenbrenner has given Gonzales a Mar. 2 deadline to respond.

OMG you guys aren't we so lucky we have such responsible and level-headed republicans inexplicably rescuing us from Dubya's naughty spying program? If I had the motivation, I might explore a little more in depth how the upstanding Congresswoman from New Mexico initially very publicly pledged an investigation into Abu Ghraib, then voted against it. Or I might talk about how Specter refused to put Gonzales under oath when he "testified" in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. You get the idea.

Too bad they're all lying sacks of shit. As BushCo's approval ratings continue to plummet, they just can't help themselves. As their prospects for November seem bleaker and less open to widespread fraud, all they can do is rely upon what's worked so well for the republican party for the past 40 years -- suckle from the teet of the Powers that Be, then lie through their fanged teeth about it or quietly capitulate to the Beast.

Conyers speaks, you listen:
Today, the House Judiciary Committee considered my resolution of inquiry on the domestic spying program. The Resolution was rejected 16 to 21, with all Democrats and one Republican (Congressman Hostetler) voting for it.

A few quick impressions: first, I was surprised at how half hearted the Republican defense of the program was. I would even go further -- while some offered a full throated defense of the program, many of my Republican colleagues seemed almost sheepish about it, and many did not speak about it at all.

Second, Republicans repeatedly asserted that the documents were not needed because Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner has unilaterally submitted 51 questions (pdf) to the Attorney General, and that the Attorney General would testify at a general oversight hearing at some undetermined point in the future. I and the other Democratic Members responded that this was wholly inadequate, and that to fulfill their constitutional oversight role the Committee needed to obtain documents from the Administration and hold separate hearings on the NSA issue.

More to the point, while some news outlets touted the Chairman's letter, his questions are, in my view, inadequate. A close reading of them reveals that the first 38 questions essentially ask the Department whether they think the program is legal. They have already given us their answer on that. The remaining questions are so general, that they can be answered by a google search of what is already in the press.

A few are such softballs it is hard to take them seriously. Take number 18, for example -- "Do you agree that it is debatable as to whether the United States homeland is still a target of al Qaeda?" Wonder what the Justice Department will answer. That sounds like the Fox News question of the day.

Pretty much.

The republican answer? Craft legislation working hand-in-hand with the White House to legalize BushCo's, how to put it, less-than-strict-constructionist interpretation of the Fourth Amendment.

Continuing from the Courant's piece referenced at the beginning:
White House and congressional officials said the discussions are focusing on DeWine's proposal, which also would create a new subcommittee on the Senate Intelligence Committee solely to monitor the NSA program.

Silly me -- of course it will all be alright if there's a republican-controlled subcommittee overseeing the program. Let's just forget that this program has been going on since 2002, as have the other related programs Gonzales said he couldn't comment on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let's just forget that god-knows-how-many-poor-assholes have been spied upon by this "terrorist surveillance program" without a warrant and without them ever knowing about it. Let's just forget that for the past four years BushCo has been routinely shitting upon the Fourth Amendment, and are willing, indeed hoping, to continue that tradition. From the Courant:
"To simply exclude communications from the coverage of [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and allow secret wiretapping without a warrant ... would be a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment," said Kate Martin, director for National Security Studies at George Washington University, in an e-mail message.

Lock 'em up. The whole disgusting lot.


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