Chris's Rants

Sunday, July 09, 2006

You're doing what?!

Ally Warned Bush on Keeping Spying From Congress (emphasis mine):
WASHINGTON, July 8 — In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters.
Might have violated the law!? Let's be perfectly clear, it is/was a violation of the law, period. Of course, the do-nothing Republican controlled congress and the administration's own Justice Dept. aren't going to actually prosecute this clear violation of the law.

The article continues:
The letter from Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not specify the intelligence activities that he believed had been hidden from Congress.

But Mr. Hoekstra, who was briefed on and supported the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and the Treasury Department's tracking of international banking transactions, clearly was referring to programs that have not been publicly revealed.
Got that? The Cheney Bush administration is conducting intelligence, possibly against U.S. citizens, and there is absolutely no oversight of the programs. Note also that this is apparently referring to the plural... programs.

'I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed,' Mr. Hoesktra wrote. 'If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the administration, a violation of the law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the members of this committee who have so ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies.'

He added: 'The U.S. Congress simply should not have to play Twenty Questions to get the information that it deserves under our Constitution.'
The problem, of course, is that the Republican controlled Congress hasn't been asking any questions; much less 20.
Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, declined to comment on the concerns raised by Mr. Hoekstra but said that 'we will continue to work closely with the chairman and other Congressional leaders on important national security issues.'
Shorter administration spokesmodel: We will continue to hide things from congressional oversight and congress-critters with STFU already; they are jeopardizing national security.
Mr. Hoekstra's blunt letter is evidence of a rift between the White House and House Republican leaders over the administration's perceived indifference to Congressional oversight and input on intelligence matters.
Perceived indifference?! This is the same administration that has, on a number of occasions, simply walked out on congressional hearings iin mid-progress; saying that they had more important things to which to attend. Perceived? I think not. It is as real as you or I.

But, here's the money quote from the article:
The letter appears to have resulted at least in part from the White House's decision, made early in May, to name Gen. Michael V. Hayden to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, with Stephen R. Kappes as his deputy. The letter was sent the day of General Hayden's confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
So, despite the fact that the nominee under consideration revealed the existance of programs under his command that had not been briefed to congress, in direct violation of the law, they went ahead and approved his nomination anyway; I gather on his word that he promises not to do it again, double pinky swear.

Sigh. Had enough?

However, I think that this sheds more light on the administration's latest assault on the NYT. It isn't about the SWIFT program, which was for all practical purposes public knowledge. No, rather, it is an attemt to intimidate the press so that they will hold back on other potentially more damaging revelations (to the administration, not the GWOT) in an election year.

Via AmericaBlog, we have Frank Rich this week:
The administration has a more insidious game plan instead: it has manufactured and milked this controversy to reboot its intimidation of the press, hoping journalists will pull punches in an election year. There are momentous stories far more worrisome to the White House than the less-than-shocking Swift program, whether in the chaos of Anbar Province or the ruins of New Orleans. If the press muzzles itself, its under-the-radar self-censorship will be far more valuable than a Nixonesque frontal assault that ends up as a 24/7 hurricane veering toward the Supreme Court...


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