Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pressure on Senate Republicans Growing

The attempt by the Bush Administration to avoid accountability on the NSA domestic spying issue is causing concern around the nation. Senator Pat Roberts, for example, says one thing one day, and a few days later says something else. For once, Roberts may have to do what's right for the country and not what's right for George W. Bush. Investigations of the NSA must go forward and attempts to squash investigations is not something Americans should tolerate. The NSA needs oversight over its new programs if those programs are legitimate and necessary, but we may also need discussions about whether those programs should even exist, and Americans need to be reassured that procedures won't be ignored so that Dick Cheney or John Bolton or others in the administration can abuse NSA regulations to do a little private spying of their own as recent news reports suggest may be the case. Yet another paper, The Denver Post, is asking for some accountability, particularly from Senator Roberts and Senator DeWine:
We hope Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts meant it when he suggested that the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program should be monitored by a special court. It is time for the administration to recognize that such an approach is the right thing to do.

The Republican from Kansas was among members of Congress who have expressed concerns about unbridled executive power. President Bush authorized no-warrant wiretaps in secret after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The program, which has monitored phone calls and e-mails of thousands of U.S. residents suspected of having ties to terrorists, sidesteps the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that requires a court order to eavesdrop in this country.


Last week, officials announced that President Bush would support a plan by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, to exempt the NSA program from judicial oversight, while providing for congressional briefings on the program. Such a plan clearly does not provide adequate protection from government intrusion.
Let me add just a quick note here. Sensationalistic attempts by the Bush Administration to justify its spying programs ring hollow when we find out that a corporation owned by Arabs will be overseeing several of our ports. It's been apparent for some time that there is no lack of good honest measures that the Bush Administration can take to protect our nation without endangering our civil liberties or abusing the US Constitution.

Even if Congress passes legislation concerning the NSA spying, that still does not address the issue of bypassing the law as has apparently already happened. Nor does it address the issue that if a law is passed, what assurances will we as a nation have that the Bush Administration will follow the new law when it couldn't be bothered to follow the old law? Accountability requires that the American people understand what happened and that concrete steps will be taken so they do not happen again. Given the incompetence and the overly creative legal thinking of the Bush Administration we need a lot more answers and a lot more in the way of checks and balances.


Blogger Jeff G said...

Its said that transparency in government leads to the highest level of accountability. Unfortunately, the only thing transparent about the Bush administration is its lack of veracity.

I apologize for the cynicism, but it seems the only thing Bush and company enjoy torturing more than Muslims is the truth.

1:04 PM  

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