Monday, March 06, 2006

Kabuki Congress

NYT Imagine being stopped for speeding and having the local legislature raise the limit so you won't have to pay the fine. It sounds absurd, but it's just what is happening to the 28-year-old law that prohibits the president from spying on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge.

Or at least that is what the traitors at the NYT, that exposed the secret program would hope you are stupid enough to believe. I hope that the reporters and editors are prosecuted for what they did.
It's a familiar pattern. President Bush ignores the Constitution and the laws of the land, and the cowardly, rigidly partisan majority in Congress helps him out by rewriting the laws he's broken.

In 2004, to take one particularly disturbing example, Congress learned that American troops were abusing, torturing and killing prisoners, and that the administration was illegally detaining hundreds of people at camps around the world. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, huffed and puffed about the abuse, but did nothing. And when the courts said the detention camps do fall under the laws of the land, compliant lawmakers simply changed them.
Are you referring to the McCain bill that not only forbid torturing, but also embarrasing or ofending their prisoners?
Now the response of Congress to Mr. Bush's domestic wiretapping scheme is following the same pattern, only worse.

At first, lawmakers expressed outrage at the warrantless domestic spying, and some Democrats and a few Republicans still want a full investigation. But the Republican leadership has already reverted to form. Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has held one investigative hearing, notable primarily for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's refusal to answer questions.
The AG testified to that committee. Some of his testamony may have been in closed session, which ticks the NYT off, because it can't use that testamony to expose any more of America's secrets.
Mr. Specter then loyally produced a bill that actually grants legal cover, retroactively, to the one spying program Mr. Bush has acknowledged. It also covers any other illegal wiretapping we don't know about — including, it appears, entire "programs" that could cover hundreds, thousands or millions of unknowing people.
Mr. Specter's bill at least offers the veneer of judicial oversight from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Actually Specter's bill is the noxious one, because it would require everything to go through court, and the AG has already testified they cannot get the necessary paperwork, with the details required by the FISA court, prepared in 72 hours.
A far more noxious proposal being floated by Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio, would entirely remove intelligence gathering related to terrorism from the law on spying, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
That is what is needed, or if they want to keep the FISA court in the loop, they need to reduce the amount of proof that needs to be provided in the 72 our period.
Let's call this what it is: a shell game. The question is whether the Bush administration broke the law by allowing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans and others in the United States without obtaining the required warrant. The White House wants Americans to believe that the spying is restricted only to conversations between agents of Al Qaeda and people in the United States. But even if that were true, which it evidently is not, the administration has not offered the slightest evidence that it could not have efficiently monitored those Qaeda-related phone calls and e-mail messages while following the existing rules.
The NYT is not telling the truth.
In other words, there is not a shred of proof that the illegal program produced information that could not have been obtained legally, had the administration wanted to bother to stay within the law.
No there has been testamony as to why they could not follow the FISA requirements, but the NYT refuses to consider it.

No comments: