What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 6, 2006

The Domestic Surveillance Hearings Start Today

The Associated Press is reporting:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has not adequately justified why the Bush administration failed to seek court approval for domestic surveillance, said the senator in charge of a hearing Monday on the program.

Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday he believes that President Bush violated a 1978 law specifically calling for a secret court to consider and approve such monitoring. The Pennsylvania Republican branded Gonzales' explanations to date as "strained and unrealistic."
And the thing we have to keep in mind is that the Presiddent also lied about the surveillance. On April 20, 2004, he said:
Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
He said "...a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed..." He's lying right there. And then he said "When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." He's lying right there, too.

But back to Tim Russert's interview with Specter. On whether he thinks the Congress gave the administration the authority in October 2002, Specter said this (you'll have to scroll down for the transcript):
I believe that contention is very strained and unrealistic. The authorization for the use of force doesn’t say anything about electronic surveillance, issue was never raised with the Congress. And there is a specific statute on the books, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which says flatly that you can’t undertake that kind of surveillance without a court order.

MR. RUSSERT: The White House also says that they didn’t go to Congress because people in Congress told them that they would compromise this surveillance plan if they requested permission to conduct it.

SEN. SPECTER: Well, the administration also has said, Attorney General Gonzalez has been questioned, reported, and I asked this in a letter I sent to him, saying that if the administration went to Congress, they were likely to be denied the authority. So, it’s very hard in that kind of a context to claim that Congress intended to give the authority if the administration thought that Congress would turn it down.
And then:
Now, on the issue as to whether the program would be compromised, you don’t know that until the administration goes to the Intelligence Committees, or the chairmen and the ranking, and lays the program on the line with sufficient detail so that there can be some Congressional oversight. And I think up until this time, Tim, that’s never been done.

MR. RUSSERT: The President has said that there have been at least 12 briefings of senior members of Congress.

SEN. SPECTER: Well, the statute requires that the committee be informed. And the committee constitutes 15 members. And they have the so-called “gang of eight”: the chairman and ranking member of the Intelligence Committees of each House, and the majority leader and the Democratic leader in each House. That really is not—is not what the statute requires. And if the administration thinks that’s too broad because the Congress leaks, and regrettably that’s a fact of life, we ought to change the law. They’ve never asked us to do that. And I think we would do that if they could have a showing that a more restrictive approach is warranted.
Hmm. They violated the law, failed to inform Congress and lied about it all. What else can be said?

Oh, that's right:


No comments: