Saturday, March 04, 2006

Frist Latest Republican Trying To Protect Administration On Warrantless Surveillance

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is the latest Republican hoping to create legislation to legalize warrantless surveillance.

Frist this week formed a Republican-only "working group" to find a way to change U.S. law. According to the Washington Post, no early compromise was reached, and sometimes tense meetings continue among senators and their aides.

Frist joins Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Mike DeWine (R-OH) in this illogical quest -- one that seeks legislation to legalize warrantless surveillance, without admitting that warrantless surveillance is illegal. Senate Republicans are hoping they can make the entire problem go away without facing the question of whether the administration broke the law. As DeWine said, "We don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional."

Specter's proposal would bring the four-year-old National Security Agency program under the authority of the court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. DeWine's proposal has been, illogically, supported by the administration, which has simultaneously spun that the Bush Administration has "inherent authority" to conduct warrantless surveillance, and that no legislation is needed. His proposal would exempt the NSA program from FISA law.

While the Republicans spin their wheels trying to find loopholes and back-door ways to make the administration's illegal program legal, some Democrats are standing up for an honest debate.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) said she's interested in robust oversight before any legislation is considered. "Having the White House negotiate with Senate Republicans only, and spring a done deal on the Congress, I think would be a big mistake," she said.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) introduced a bill Thursday to investigate the Bush administration's eavesdropping program with a nonpartisan organization, called the National Commission on Surveillance Activities and the Rights of Americans.

A commission would "shed much-needed sunshine on any unlawful or unconstitutional executive intrusions into the lives of ordinary Americans," Byrd said.

But given recent history, don't expect the commission concept to fly. The Administration has an established history of, at least initially, fighting independent commissions. The administration's remaining lackeys in Congress will do their best to fight on their behalf.


Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Out of sight, out of mind.
Unfortunately, the NSA spying issue failed to inflame enough people in the polls, thanks to Bush-friendly questions that often failed to distinguish between illegal spying without a warrant and spying on Al Quaeda. So now, the dominant Republicans in an election year can make it all go away.
Of course the lack of public outcry did not stop the Republicans from pursuing impeachment of Clinton for an impropriety that now looks like a bad standup comic joke compared to the Nixon-caliber crimes committed here.

10:16 AM  

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