Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bush Backs Down

In an abrupt about-face, the Bush administration has announced that they will stop their unauthorized domestic surveillance program. They will now go back to getting warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) again. (At least, that's what the Bush administration says they will do now... You never can tell with those people.)

Why the sudden change of heart? The White House gave some lame, nebulous excuse that FISA now had "better guidelines" to meet the Administration's "concerns about speed and agility"... but of course Tony Snow did not explain the what those concerns were, nor what the new guidelines were. The White House also could not explain why--if a small change in process was all that was ever needed--they could not have adopted these new guidelines five years ago. As usual, they have tried to cover their tracks with more lies.

But the truth is painfully easy to read. The Bush administration cannot explain their concerns because there were no legitimate concerns: not only did the FISA court approve over 99% of all wiretap requests anyhow, but the Attorney general always had the right to issue a warrant and get approval a few days later. The Bush administration cannot explain what the new guidelines are, because there are no new guidelines of substance. In truth, the Bush administration has pulled the plug on this manifest abuse of power because Senators Leahy and Specter were gearing up to crucify Attorney General Gonzales over it.

Of course, they are still secretly going to wiretap American citizens on American soil--so it's not exactly a triumph for civil liberties--but at last, Congress has begun to check Bush's unprecedented claims of executive power. And some measure of judicial oversight--even in the form of a compliant, secret court--is better than none at all.


Anonymous said...

This is a victory. It is also egg in the face for all the conservative Republicans who insisted that the President absolutely positively 100% needed secret unchecked wiretapping authority or the sky would fall. What is Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) saying now that Bush has flip-flopped. Probably nothing. Would have been better to take that tack in the first place. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

This happened because of how we all voted on Nov. 7. Do any of us really think this change would have happened if Specter were still chairman of that committee? Sure, he's always said he was upset by it but he always let the Bushies off the hook when it mattered.

The Democratic majority will make oversight threats stick more often and Specter is perhaps even more willing to go along with the Democrats than he was to back off when his own party threatened his chairmanship. 

// posted by RBR