Sunday, March 26, 2006

Senate To Discuss Censure In Hearing, Giving New Life To Debate Over Warrantless Surveillance

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing this week on a call by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) to censure President Bush for authorizing a warrantless surveillance program.

Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) has opposed censure -- as has the vast majority of the Senate. But although approval of the March 13 censure resolution is highly unlikely, the hearing will most likely serve the purpose of providing a forum for debate of warrantless surveillance.

Democrats have been unhappy with the perceived effort by Senate Republicans to sweep the debate over warrantless surveillance under the rug, culminating with the Senate Intelligence Committee voting along party lines three weeks ago against an investigation of the program. Instead, Congressional Republicans cut a deal with the White House to provide Congressional oversight for warrantless surveillance.

"We have a responsibility to ask the hard questions, to find out what the nature of the program is and whether the president violated the law," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said last week.


As JABBS has noted, the White House claimed it had "inherent authority" to conduct such surveillance, then undercut that argument by supporting legislation from Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) to "further codify" (read: legalize) the surveillance program. While legislation would legalize the program going forward, it doesn't address that the program was illegal for four-plus years.

Republicans have in the past clearly come out against further investigation of the program. As DeWine said, "We don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional."

Americans deserve better, and should hope that the Republicans on the judiciary committee agree to a fair investigation of warrantless surveillance, even if it means determining Bush was wrong.


Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
"Americans deserve better, and should hope that the Republicans on the judiciary committee agree to a fair investigation of warrantless surveillance, even if it means determining Bush was wrong."

David, I don't think this issue is going to get much traction among average, common-sense Americans who understand that President Bush is doing his best to insure our safety.

They see this strategy on the part of Democrats for what it is, pure political opportunism, an attempt to re-gain their power. You can object to that characterization all you want, but it's pretty obvious that is what is going on here. People are not as stupid as the elites on the left think they are.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

That's such a cop-out, Trinity.

And you -- and the neocons in general -- still haven't come up with a rationale for what David has been arguing.

If the Bush Administration had "inherent authority," why did it cut the deal?

Bush's popularity is hovering around 38%. I don't think the rest of us have lost our common sense. And given that about 53% of Americans want the Democrats to regain control of the House, I don't think the majority sees anything the Democrats do as a power grab. I think they see the Democrats as fighting a very uphill battle against a majority party drunken with power for too long.

10:07 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

Rob is correct.
If you go onto conservative blogs, you will find even many conservatives have abandoned the Democratic opportunism position in favor of more enlightened reasoning.
Now, if only they would only dump that equally nonsensical and baseless "Democrats support terrorists over Bush" bullsh-- as well.

The Democrats care about the same thing the Republicans and Bush should care about: An executive branch that upholds and defends the U.S. constitution and the U.S. laws to the fullest.
For reasons that include the setting of precedent, all should be concerned whenever there is even a hint that the president is not abiding by those laws which are the very foundation of our Democracy.
This includes the abuse of wiretapping surveillance, as convincingly alleged in reporting of both The Washington Post and The New York Times.
(I provided all the links on earlier postings).
I even read a report over the weekend in the Chicago Tribune of new evidences the Bush Administration NSA spying has also monitored patient-doctor and attorney client confidentiality in some instances.
(Check Chicago Tribune's website although you may need a subscription).
Dwindling numbers of Bush apologists will attempt their "Democratic opportunism" argument, even as they are being over-run by an avalanche of evidences suggesting otherwise.
These conservatives have nothing else.
The Congressional Review Office has concluded with no ambiguity that the President's true warrantless surveillance powers in regards to the FISA and NSA laws -- even in "war time" -- have not yet been determined by any court or lawmaking body.
Yet when I tried to enlighten conservatives with news (to them) of the bipartisan CRO decision on blogs over the weekend, I was still hit with the usual: sections of the CRO decision quoted out of context, or isolated court decisions in which the CRO had already contemplated in its decision encompassing the entire historical court docket on the matter.
The conservatives still tried to impose clearly wrong limitations on what the decision -- and the NSA/FISA laws in general -- embrace.
Many conservatives forever duck behind the president's position: "In war time, the president can do whatever surveillance he chooses" tripe. They do not even contemplate what dictates "war time" and when such a period ends.
These conservatives will forever trash any suggestion that the matter of warrantless surveillance requires further investigation.
For some of them, it is too easy to blindly defend their possibly law-breaking president with baseless rants of "Democratic opportunism."

12:40 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

rob of wilmington, del. said...
That's such a cop-out, Trinity.

If the Bush Administration had "inherent authority," why did it cut the deal?

IMO? If you want to call it a deal? Out of practicality and expediency. In other words, simply to grease the skids so they can do what needs to be done on an ongoing basis, because they understand the political aspect of the whole matter.

Perception is everything, and even though there are Constitutional scholars and experts on both sides of the issue, your side, along with your fellow Bush-hating and willing accomplices in MSM, are going around claiming that Bush, in fact, has broken the law. In fact, nobody has established that whatsoever, and this is not a silly game that we are playing with these radical jihadists. I think many on your side still fail to understand this.

Still, not everyone views it the way most of you here do, rob. I read some of the hate-spewers who post here, and it's very clear they are pretty far left of center. And as far as the low poll numbers, we'll see what happens in November. As we know, this President is not running again. And even if he were, I believe he would still make his decisions on what he believes is right, and not poll numbers.

In the meantime, while your side throws everything they possibly can in the way of this President, under the mantle of being better, more lawful, concerned and better informed Americans than the rest of us, he continues to do what needs to be done in order to best prevent future attacks on this country. And I both support him, and respect him for that.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

Trinity, you continue to make this out as a Bush-hating exercise. Facts don't matter. Name calling does.

It's not even a partisan thing. About half of the country is against warrantless surveillance. Several prominent conservatives have voiced concern or opposition to the program.

The Bush Administration's argument has, to be kind, evolved over the past two months. And the fact that it cut a deal -- as David has said -- undercuts its argument. If it believed it was right, it should have stuck to its guns, just as its done on every other decision its made since Bush came into office.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

TRINITY: under the mantle of being better, more lawful, concerned and better informed Americans than the rest of us>>>

That's such a patronizing staement. So if someone is ignorant and votes out of ignorance, we should applaud that vote?

If someone like a Sean Hannity or a Bill O'Reilly is caught saying something false, should people not question it? Or should we dumb ourselves down to those who accept everything a Fox pundit says as the truth?

When a liberal points out some falsehood by a conservative pundit, the reaction from conservatives is almost always:

a) the liberal is over-reacting
b) the liberal doesn't get it (although no factual basis is provided to counter the liberal's argument. This is otherwise known as name-calling).
c) Liberals do it wrong too.

It's weak, Trinity. And it's very predictable.

TRINITY: he continues to do what needs to be done in order to best prevent future attacks on this country.

Katrina showed how well-prepared we are for dealing with the effects of a catastrophe on our soil. The ports deal showed how out of touch and unprepared this administration is with dealing with issues of homeland security. Bush should be embarrassed for saying he'd veto any legislation to stop the ports transfer, then admitting he didn't know about the deal until after it became public knowledge.

What has Bush or the GOP done about port security, rail security, airport security? Not nearly enough. That's not a liberal talking -- that's the Homeland Security inspector general. What's worse, the Congressional GOP won't even allow votes to be taken on Democratic initiatives to increase spending in these areas. How about chemical and nuclear plant security? Same problem. The Congressional GOP is more concerned with appeasing corporate interests, so it won't allow legislation to reach the House or Senate floor. What about border patrol? Bush has shown how out of touch he is with even conservatives on this issue.

Trinity, the difference between you and me isn't love or hatred of Bush and his administration. The difference is that I question what I hear, because I believe I've been misled. You accept what you hear, and apparently discount things the administration says that prove to be wrong.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous stop the bleeding said...

So is this good, bad or just the same???

4:47 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

It's good ...

If the Republicans allow an honest debate of the issues.

If the MSM covers this, without using Republican code words like "terrorist surveillance."

If the Democrats make their point clear: "We are in favor of terrorist surveillance, but we are not in favor of President Bush inventing laws. Warrantless surveillance is not currently legal, and the administration and its party leadership in Congress can't simply decree it so."

4:47 PM  
Anonymous stop the bleeding said...

I hope so

5:06 PM  
Anonymous gratuitous said...

"An honest debate"???

Hoo boy, but that's the last thing the Republicans are interested in. If there's a hearing, it will be to hammer the Democrats for being soft on terrorism, praise the Bush administration for its perspicacity in chasing down terrorists, and give the Repubicans another chance to line up behind the White House. "Honest debate"? No such thing with the Republicans running the show. If it starts to look like there might be an honest debate breaking out, Stupidhead will decide he suddenly needs to call a press conference, and every available camera and microphone in DC will get in front of his simian little face.

If that doesn't work, or if Chimpy's too in the bag to come out and face a bank of microphones, Crash Cart, Rummy, and Condi will all similarly announce surprise press availabilities. Once the nasty hearings are over, or the honest debate has been stifled, they'll all go back to the West Wing and congratulate each other on another successful raid on democracy.

Mark my words.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous DLnyc said...

Simple reply to 'soft on terror' charge: If * is really spying on terrorists, why did he feel FISA wouldn't give him a warrant? I believe FISA almost never refuses to grant a warrant. They might though, if the list of targets consisted only of *'s political opposition, with no hint of evidence of connection to terrorism.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous DLync said...

Who are they spying on, that they couldn't get a warrant from FISA?

This is a question I would like to see the Democrats asking. Public opinion supports spying on terrorists. What most of the public doesn't get, though, is that * already has very wide latitude to go to the FISA court either before or within 72 hours of any arguably legitimate surveilance. So it seems clear to me that they are spying on people that they couldn't possibly show are even POSSIBLY connected to terrorism. It sure would be nice to hear Democrats pointing this out, instead of just bickering about legality. The point is WHY did they feel it necessary to blatantly violate the law. The obvious answer, to me, is that the program is aimed at political control, not at fighting terrorism.

6:14 PM  
Blogger thewaronterrible said...

George Orwell's Animal Farm.
People questioning Bush's warrantless spying, Democrats and Republicans, are caught in the crosshairs. That is exactly the way Rove and the Bush apologists want it.
The apologists retort, "You don't have enough proof Bush went beyond reasonable limits on NSA spying to protect us all from foreign terrorists. Where's your proof? Shut up your face."

Then when the dissenters argue, "But, there's more than enough proof through media exposes and conflicting positions of the Bush Administration warrant further investigation. Our laws and U.S. constitution that underlie our Democracy justify at least that."

The sheep apologists bleat: "No can do. Bush should disclose confidential aspects of the program to assist the terrorists? Are you crazy? Y'see Bush good. Gooooood. Terrorists Bad. Bad baaaaa baaaaa baaaaaaaaadddd!"

11:28 AM  

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