April 30, 2006

Did Arlen Specter grow some testicles?

This has been floating around for a few days, but I've been out and about so here it is now.

From the LATimes. The lede:
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday he might seek to block funding of a domestic eavesdropping program in an effort to force the Bush administration to answer lawmakers' questions about the operation.

In a warning to the White House, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he planned to introduce legislation that would cut off funds for the surveillance program, which he described as a threat to civil liberties and a violation of domestic espionage laws.
Good for him. Now let's see if he'll follow through.

Here's the soundbite. My guess is that the first sentence is some rhetorical cover - and that Specter has already decided what he's gonna do. I just don't have any idea what that is:
Specter said he was not yet prepared to support a cutoff of funding, which he said would be a measure of last resort. But he warned that if the Bush administration was unwilling to comply with existing laws or help draft new domestic surveillance legislation, the only way for Congress to exercise any control might be to deny funding.

"What's the use of passing another statute if the president won't pay any attention to it?" Specter said. "When you talk about withholding funds, there you're talking about a real authority."[emphasis added.]
Hahaha. Did he just say that the Bush was acting illegally? What else could "unwilling to comply with existing laws" possibly mean?

Here comes the White House spin. Take a close look at what is said (and what isn't):
"The administration remains confident that a majority of members of Congress continue to recognize the importance of protecting Americans through lawful intelligence activities directed at terrorists," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman.
Notice that she said "lawful intelligence activities directed at terrorists." But, honestly is anyone really against that?

Only those imaginary liberals who seem to only inhabit the scattered imagination of wingnuts (and trolls) everywhere. It's a strawman argument hoisted to deflect from the real issue - the unlawful intelligence activities directed at US Citizens.

In any case the next paragraph from the LATimes calls it BS anyway:
Many in Congress have rejected that argument and are pushing for an overhaul of espionage laws to subject the domestic surveillance program to greater outside scrutiny.
So there.

As I said it's nice to see Specter grow some testicles. Perhaps he'll have the guts to use them.

We'll see.

1 comment:

Adkenar said...

Their defense of the spying programs as lawful behavior might have a leg to stand on if they weren't trying to shut down lawsuits concerning potential illegal spying.

Maybe there is still hope, if they can cut the funding. Maybe.