Democrats called the deal an abdication of the special bipartisan committee's role as a watchdog, saying the Republicans had in effect blessed the program before learning how it worked or what it entailed.
"The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House," said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is vice chairman of the panel.
The above is from David D. Kirkpatrick and Scott Shane's "G.O.P. Senators Say Accord Is Set on Wiretapping" in this morning's New York Times and the excerpt above is from the ninth and ten paragraphs. That's how far down you have to dive through the nonsense so well captured by the headline.
Olympia Snowe's a star of the piece and she's the Queen of Delusion but then most people smeared in the lead up to the war ("French!") by her own party would have wised up a long time ago. Proving she's not most people, or competent, Snowe is pleased as punch that from now on the new "rules" will give the administration 45 days to seek a warrant (as opposed to the current 72 hours) when they want to spy on American citizens (45 days they can spy without a warrant) UNLESS the attorney general (that would be Gonzales) will "certify that the surveillance is necessary to protect the country and explain to the subcommittee why the administration has not sought a warrant" because, after all, Gonzales has done such a brilliant job telling the Senate the truth, right? (Wrong.)
They've abdicated their responsibilities. But Harriet Miers (she just doesn't go away, does she?), Dick Cheney and Stephen J. Hadley (aka the gang of crooks) worked really hard on the legislation. It's called abdication of duty if not derelicition. But if the White House wants to write legislation, who are the cowed Republican senators to stand in their way?
Here's the Queen of Delusions, the Miss Havisham of the Senate, in the Times:
"We are reasserting Congressional responsibility and oversight," Ms. Snowe said.
And here's actual reality from the Washington Post:
At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan described the DeWine proposal as interesting but reiterated the position that Bush already has the power to institute the program.
Walter Pincus' "Senate Panel Blocks Eavesdropping Probe" reveals that the only hope for democracy may be left to Arlen Specter, of all people:
The NSA issue was brought up at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who is drafting his own bill. Specter warned that he will try to reduce the administration's funding unless Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales agrees to answer more of his committee's questions.
"We're having quite a time in getting responses to questions as to what has happened with the electronic surveillance program," Specter said. "I want to put the administration on notice and this committee on notice that I may be looking for an amendment to limit funding as to the electronic surveillance program -- which is the power of the purse -- if we can't get an answer in any other way."
Shane and Kirkpatrick offer the same information in much weaker form.
Remember Democracy Now! is in London all this week. Be sure to listen, watch or read (transcripts) today.
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