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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


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A follow up:

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing the White House of ''very blatant encroachment" on congressional authority, said yesterday he will hold an oversight hearing into President Bush's assertion that he has the power to bypass more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.

''There is some need for some oversight by Congress to assert its authority here," Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview. ''What's the point of having a statute if . . . the president can cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn't like?"

Specter said he plans to hold the hearing in June. He said he intends to call administration officials to explain and defend the president's claims of authority, as well to invite constitutional scholars to testify on whether Bush has overstepped the boundaries of his power.

H/T: Glenn Greenwald

Of course, I’ll believe it when it actually happens.

For one small reason for my extremely understandable skepticism, I present this:

On December 22nd, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi wrote to Stephen Hadley, the National Security Advisor, requesting "the dates and locations of, as well as the names of members of the Senate and House of Representatives who attended briefings on the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program discussed by the President in his December 17, 2005 radio address."

On December 29th, Stephen Hadley replied (working the week between Festivus and New Year’s, no less!), letting the congresswoman know he asked the Director of National Intelligence to give her the information she sought.

Yet, incredibly, four months hence, not only has the director not done so, but now the administration is refusing to even say who was briefed on the program and when.

Pelosi’s letter says:

The NSA Director has advised me that the information I sought has been sent to the House Intelligence Committee for secure storage because it was "classified and compartmented." It is my understanding that the information provided is confined to a list of names of those who attended the briefings and the dates on which the briefings occurred. This is not national security information by any definition, and I therefore find the decision to classify it to be inconsistent with classification standards and completely without merit.


But President George W. Bush is the one who said that these briefings took place!

He’s the one who said it! On the air! Repeatedly!

So how can they be a secret?

(Well, yes, I guess we all know the answer to that: a secret’s not a secret when it’s told by the leaker-in-chief, only when it’s let slip by us mere mortals. That's because we're not above the law, you see.)

There’s only one conclusion to be drawn: when the administration said they’d held "dozens" of briefings, they were being less than truthful—which is to say, they were lying—and now they don’t want to admit that.

Or perhaps there’s another explanation. But I haven’t been able to come up with one. If you’ve got an alternate theory, by all means, let’s hear it. Because I'd dearly love to be able to trust my government again. I try and I try and I try but they keep pushing me away.


I had a short post on this a while back when our dear leader signed the McCain anti-torture legislation (which stated that it was illegal to do something illegal, very helpful) and then as soon as he signed it, said "well, except for me. I can torture." A shining moment in our democracy...

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