While the media, in its bovine and herd-like instinct to do the same story everybody else is (but louder), was giving itself an orgasm over the murder of a man/myth in Iraq, New Orleans continued to rot, schools continued to crumble, and the country’s debt continued to rise.
In addition, reality was coming from strange quarters, those of Sen. Arlen Specter (r), who chairs the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. That post puts him in charge of intelligence matters sort of.
Specter has not been pleased by reports the administration is eavesdropping on Americans and that telephone companies have been handing over records of the calls you’re making to the spook-set under the administration’s thumb.
The good senator is playing the checks-and-balances card calling the administration on its constitutional carelessness when he’s probably just upset about being left out of the loop.
Anyway, he’s been trying to set up some hearings on the telephone company records stuff. Some parliamentary fine-points came up and Specter needed to get the CEO’s on board without subpoenas by calling a “closed” hearing. A “closed” hearing, by the way is one you don’t know what’s going in.
Like the scribe said...out of the loop.
So what happened next was that Specter wrote a letter to the (v)ice (p)resident since he’d heard Dead Duck Dick was lobbying members of the judiciary committee behind his back, because the administration doesn’t want any hearings.
This is par for the course (of course), it’s just that now congressional (r)epublicans are beginning to feel bereft of that thing between their legs, mostly because that thing’s gone after six years of lock-step (goose-step?) obedience to our infallible leader.
A couple of weeks ago, “U.S. News and World Report” did a pretty big story on “the most powerful man you’ve never heard of.” The reference was to a guy named Addington who is Cheney’s right-wing when it comes to the matter of expanding presidential power to do things like make energy policy with oil guys, torture people in secret prisons around the world etc.
The story talked about how he and our torturer-in-chief, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, have been waving Article II of the Constitution around since these jerks stole the 2000 election.
That Article establishes the President as commander-in-chief, without getting into details, but making clear Congress has a role in all of it, too. Actually the Congress stuff is in Article I and you gotta believe them there Articles were listed in order of importance.
Anyway, these guys have used this innocuous and largely prescriptive bit of the Constitution for six years in an effort to write Congress out of the political picture.
Congress, of course, stands as the people’s representative.
So Specter wrote Cheney: “I was further advised that you told those Republican members that the telephone companies had been instructed not to provide any information to the Committee as they were prohibited from disclosing classified information.
“I was surprised, to say the least, that you sought to influence, really determine, the action of the Committee without calling me first, or at least calling me at some point. This was especially perplexing since we both attended the Republican Senators caucus lunch yesterday and I walked directly in front of you on at least two occasions enroute from the buffet to my table.”
(the scribe put that in because he finds the bit about the buffet priceless)
But here’s the good and true stuff the inquisitor of Anita Hill should be congratulated on: “There is no doubt that the NSA program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which sets forth the exclusive procedure for domestic wiretaps which requires the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. [scribe’s emphasis]. It may be that the President has inherent authority under Article II to trump that statute but the President does not have a blank check and the determination on whether the President has such Article II power calls for a balancing test which requires knowing what the surveillance program constitutes.”
He goes on to do a little (long overdue) threatening with subpoenas and pointing out that, all the media hoopla and poll taking-aside, the administration is givenn the American people the middle figure by continuing to eavesdrop (illegally).
Folks, this battle about rights is the stuff of good politics and there’s not enough of it out there to keep the scribe from drifting, again and again, into poetry and prose.
When you kill a man with a five hundred-pound bomb and spend the day whooping it up, you’ve taken war as politics by other means too far. You are glorifying death and murder (at the expense of extinguished innocents) and you’re not acting like an enlightened nation, but rather like a bunch of savages.
But that's not news.