Orange Gearle

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

a sphincter says 'amnesty'

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter has threatened to subpoena administration officials over the NSA scandal. Specter claimed that he was fed up with the lack of cooperation from the White House, specifically naming Cheney. As recently as June 7, 2006 he sent a 3 page letter (.pdf) to Cheney saying it was "neither pleasant nor easy to raise these issues with the administration of my own party."

CNN reports:

"What I'm looking for is sufficient information for the Congress, the Judiciary Committee, to handle our responsibility for congressional oversight on a constitutional issue," Specter said.

Specter wants the administration to submit the National Security Agency's no-warrant domestic surveillance program to a review by a secret federal court.

He called the program a "flat violation" of the 1978 law that set up that court.

But just days later this WoPo article reports that Specter has changed his position slightly:

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed legislation that would give President Bush the option of seeking a warrant from a special court for an electronic surveillance program such as the one being conducted by the National Security Agency

I'm not opposed to some sort of compromise, as long as it doesn't make the President too powerful...eliminate checks and balances, etc. You know, the whole creation of a Dictatorship thing....but Sphincter's Specter's proposal goes on to include blanket amnesty...yes...that's what I said...blanket amnesty.

Another part of the Specter bill would grant blanket amnesty to anyone who authorized warrantless surveillance under presidential authority, a provision that seems to ensure that no one would be held criminally liable if the current program is found illegal under present law.

WTF? Why am I surprised at this? I guess I'm not.

The WoPo article goes on to quote Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She says the current NSA program "is a significant intelligence tool, but it can be fit into and should conform to the FISA law." I think that the majority of the people agree with her on this one. Repubs make the argument that the majority of the people think that this wiretapping stuff is ok...the "What does it matter if you aren't doing anything illegal" argument. Ok, fine. But what about the LAW???? What Feinstein is saying is just that. Do the wiretapping, within the law, with a warrent. The WoPo article finishes like this:

One problem, according to Feinstein, is that "people are legislating in the dark" because most members of the Judiciary Committee, including Specter, have not been briefed on the NSA program.

Feinstein said she believes Congress should take its time on the issue, because it involves serious constitutional questions on the scope of presidential powers. She said she is not sure her bill will be ready for approval by the committee by the time of a meeting to take up NSA legislation scheduled for next week.

"We're setting a precedent for a 30-year war on terrorism," she said. "If you know you can carry out the program within the law, why not do it with the added benefit that you are guaranteeing people's rights?"

Orange Gearle says...well, yeah, why not stay within the law, guarenteeing people's rights?? That's a big fucking duh. But wait, this is Bush and Cheney we are talking about -- when have they ever been concerned about much of anything besides increasing their own power (or padding their pocketbooks)??

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has The Cafferty File regarding this subject. Worth a watch.


Blogger Zoot Daze said...

Blind Man's Bluff
Published: June 11, 2006
The New York Times

For more than six months, a few senators have been fumbling around in the dark, trying to write laws covering a domestic wiretapping operation that remains a mystery to most of them. Their ideas are far from radical; some just want to bring the White House back under the rule of law by making the spying retroactively legal. But Vice President Dick Cheney, who is in charge of both overseeing the spying and covering it up, has now made it crystal clear that the White House does not intend to let anything happen. It's time for the Senate to stop rolling over and start focusing on uncovering the extent of the spying and enforcing the law.

A good place to start is by compelling the executives of the major telecommunications companies to testify about reports that they have turned over data on the phone calls of millions of Americans without a court order. Those reports were a reminder that this is not a debate about whether the government should spy on terrorists by tapping their phone calls. President Bush wants Americans to believe that critics of the program oppose that, but nobody does. The real issue is that Mr. Bush does not want to bother with legal niceties like getting a warrant or to acknowledge Congress's power by accounting for his actions.

There are four bills on this matter before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One, from Mike DeWine of Ohio, deals with the evident illegality of the program by making it legal — a cynical notion that should be killed quickly. Senator Charles Schumer's bill would grant legal standing for people to sue the government over the wiretapping. At least that is aimed at allowing the courts to enforce a law passed three decades ago to cover precisely this sort of situation.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is proposing changes to that law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was intended to make it easy for the government to get quick court approval on wiretaps of suspected terrorists or spies. Ms. Feinstein wants to make it even easier for the administration to wiretap first and get permission later. But her bill leaves a gaping loophole for Mr. Bush to go on ignoring FISA, this time with the blessing of Congress. It's also absurdly early to amend the law, since 80 percent of the Senate still doesn't know much more about the spying operation than the average American. The administration has offered no evidence that existing warrant requirements are too restrictive. Mr. Bush is not even asking for changes. He simply thinks he's above this law.

Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the committee, has been working on a convoluted bill that he thinks will re-establish legal control over the spying. It has been improved but still leaves too much room to evade court scrutiny and may actually widen the range of eavesdropping that can be done with a warrant.

We're baffled by Mr. Specter's continuing efforts to appease the White House. Last week, Mr. Cheney organized a coup in the Judiciary Committee to kill Mr. Specter's plan to subpoena telecommunications executives and ask them about the USA Today report that their companies are turning over phone records without a court order. Mr. Cheney told the panel's Republicans to oppose subpoenas and said the executives had been ordered not to testify because they could expose "extremely sensitive classified information." That's odd, given that the phone companies keep denying the report.

Mr. Specter — who last week was bemoaning the fact that Mr. Cheney watched him pass by twice at a Senate buffet lunch without mentioning that he had just stabbed him in the back — still thinks it's a good sign that the vice president's office offered to review his legislation and suggest changes. Mr. Cheney and his underlings are the problem, not the solution, and Mr. Specter should realize that by now. Mr. Specter has the votes to subpoena the executives. All he has to do is drop his idea of meeting behind closed doors, and side with the panel's Democrats, who want to have the hearing in full view of the Americans whose rights are being violated.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Orange Gearle said...

Yeah, it's not gonna happen...

"It's time for the Senate to stop rolling over and start focusing on uncovering the extent of the spying and enforcing the law."

...until we get a new Senate. Read Crossing the Gate, if you haven't. Watch the video for Markos at YearlyKos if you haven't. I'm so fucking depressed about what's happening and not happening in the government right's pathetic.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Orange Gearle said...

Markos at YearlyKos Link

scroll down to the bottom

9:20 PM  
Blogger Zoot Daze said...

Interesting. Except I didn't see Markos in that video.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Orange Gearle said...

Well, it's there, you just have to scroll clear down to the's the last's also here

9:55 PM  
Blogger Zoot Daze said...

Oh, got it.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Orange Gearle said...

It's not that good, it kinda pumps you up though. The others are ok, too. I think you might like the one of Tom Tomorrow. Some decent cartoons.

10:21 PM  

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