Sunday, March 12, 2006

NSA SURVEILLANCE: Random Roundup of New Developments

Just trying to stay on top of things:

DeWine, Graham, Snowe and Hagel Plan REALLY Bad Legislation:

The deal that Snowe and Hagel agreed to last week is worse than even I thought. We knew they were abandoning any serious Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into impeachable conduct by the White House -- conduct that actually makes our country LESS safe from terrorists (scroll to para. 9 or search for the word "detrimental"; and more here) . But now Editor & Publisher reports that the legislation also increases criminal penalties for whistleblowers who dare to tell the people when the government is acting unlawfully. I'm not normally a Chicken Little or a conspiracy theorist, but this is bad -- worse even than it sounds. If you don't believe me (a lawyer with 19 years experience defending government contractors from FBI investigations, prosecuting criminals, and writing legislation), then trust Glenn Greenwald (a First Amendment lawyer who's the leading expert on the legalities of the NSA issue).

Senator Russ Feingold to introduce resolution censuring Bush for authorizing warrantless wiretaps, from Douglass K. Daniel at the WaPo, today (Sunday):

WASHINGTON -- A liberal Democrat and potential White House contender is proposing censuring President Bush for authorizing domestic eavesdropping, saying the White House misled Americans about its legality. "The president has broken the law and, in some way, he must be held accountable," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told The Associated Press in an interview. *** Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the proposal "a crazy political move" that would weaken the U.S. during wartime.

(And in case you don't think Frist is stretching quite far enough, ThinkProgress reports him as saying, "I was hoping deep inside that the leadership in Iran…[was] not listening.") Update, 12:51 pm PT: Glenn Greenwald has a good post up on this topic.

The Senate Intelligence Committee Belatedly Realizes It's Important in the War On Terror And Shouldn't Let Partisan Politics Get in its Way:

The Senate intelligence committee, once a symbol of bipartisan oversight, is now so torn by partisan warfare that it can barely function in a time of sharp national debate over intelligence matters, according to several analysts, officials and past and current members.

Inter-party animosity ... heated up when Republicans took steps to limit probes into President Bush's handling of the Iraq war and domestic spying. It reached a full boil Tuesday, when the committee voted along party lines to reject a proposed investigation of the administration's warrantless surveillance of Americans' international communications....

[A]nger has focused mainly on the committee's chairman, Republican Pat Roberts of Kansas. A staunch defender of Bush administration policies, he recently said some of the panel's Democrats "believe the gravest threat we face is not Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, but rather the president of the United States." ***

The infighting and impasses have dismayed many Republicans and Democrats who say an independent and smooth-running committee is vital, especially now that news of the government's aggressive eavesdropping is raising new questions about how to balance civil liberties and a hard-hitting war on terrorism.

The committee's overt partisanship "is new, at least to my mind, and it's distressful, because this is one area where partisanship does not belong," said Thomas H. Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey who chaired the widely praised commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With the news media and outside commissions lacking subpoena powers, Kean said, "the committee is absolutely essential, and it can't allow partisanship to get in the way." ***

The committee's leaders acknowledge deep problems in pursuing their mission but no obvious solutions. For years, "protecting the nation and its citizens from enemy attack was something on which most politicians could agree," Roberts wrote in a recent column for the Hill newspaper. "Sadly, it seems only four and a half years after Sept. 11, that this is no longer the case." ***

Some in the intelligence community find the warring especially disappointing because the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was fashioned 30 years ago to be less partisan than the typical congressional panel.

Great article -- but, strangely, no mention at all of the biggest cause of partisan strife, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's threat to effectively destroy the Intelligence Committee to keep it from investigating King George.

And, finally, having nothing at all to do with the NSA (tricked you!):

There Actually is a Republican Named Twinkle Cavanaugh:

The other focal point of the conference was the Grand Ballroom upstairs, where the speeches were delivered. The program began at 1 p.m. Friday. Alabama's GOP Chairman Twinkle Cavanaugh recited the Pledge of Allegiance -- which in itself isn't interesting but allows us to get the name Twinkle Cavanaugh into the story.

There -- I got Twinkle into my story, too. Scooter? Arlen? Twinkle? Have Republican voters no shame?

Oh, and if you want to DO something about the NSA surveillance, please participate in the Pennsylvania Roots Project.



Christopher said...


Russell Feingold will move to censure Bush over the domestic spying program.


A Democrat with balls. What a concept.

Anonymous said...

Yep; see the second entry here.

Christopher said...

Feingold is becoming the lead ABH candidate.

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