Thursday, June 28, 2007

Senate Subpoenas Wiretapping Docs / George W. Nixon Says 'No'

This was the big news yesterday-
The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's warrant-free eavesdropping program...

...The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal squabbles within the administration over the legality of the program, said a congressional official speaking on condition of anonymity because the subpoenas had not been made public...

And the White House, this morning, right on cue, shrugged this pesky 'Senate' off-
President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors...

Apparently the White House isn't familiar with how a subpoena works.

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."

Translation: 'Why weren't you Senate jerks satisfied with the cherry-picked nuggets we were considering giving you? I know we've stonewalled and perjured ourselves through this thus far, but don't you trust us?'

The President's sole shield here is the notion of "executive privilege" (a fight President Nixon took all the way to the Supreme Court 33 years ago and lost). Has Bush stacked the federal bench with enough loyalists to secure a different outcome? I'm skeptical, but time will tell.

Getting to the heart of the matter-- the President's assertion he has the right to wiretap without warrants in violation of existing law, based solely on his say-so-- new revelations came out earlier this week that further undermine the administration's already-weak argument that the rubberstamp FISA court isn't fit for the super-scary post-9/11 world. Royce C. Lamberth, former presiding judge of the FISA Court itself, revealed that-
Lamberth's defense of the court's speed and efficiency came after senior Bush administration officials said its procedures were too cumbersome to meet counterterrorism needs in the post-9/11 world, and created a system of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency that did not include judicial review.

Taking direct aim at the administration's assertion, Lamberth noted that members of the court had approved almost 99 percent of the FISA applications presented. He added that he could not see a better way of conducting such surveillance.

"What the president did with the NSA," Lamberth said, was "a proposal for a worse way."...

...He said he was driving near the Pentagon on his way to work on Sept. 11, having been to the dentist, and recalled, "My car was engulfed in smoke, and I couldn't move." He called for help, and the FBI came "to get me in a position where I could get Justice to start approving FISA [warrants]. . . . By the time the FBI got to me in my car, I had already approved five."

This supports the idea that the President went rogue for the sake of it. He's the Decider.

Lamberth also said-
"We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war....The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges understand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs. We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgment to more than the executive."

Ugh. Can you believe Ronald Reagan appointed this moonbat to the federal courts?

And now President Bush wants to dismiss Congress and ask us to trust him? How unamerican.


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