Cut the Crap, Part 2

CUT THE CRAP, PART 2….Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R?Spin City) explains today that the NSA’s call monitoring program is completely legal and fully vetted:

The program fully complies with the law and the Constitution. It has been reviewed by executive branch attorneys, and congressional leaders from both parties ? including my friend and colleague Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) ? have been regularly briefed. Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have been aware of this program for several years yet never expressed any concerns until it was illegally leaked.

Gee, Pete, you seem awfully sure that this program “fully complies with the law and the Constitution.” So why is it that when Qwest asked for a routine court order to make everything legal and tidy, the NSA decided it would rather leave a gap in its surveillance than get one? According to USA Today, their lawyers told Qwest “they didn’t want to do that because FISA might not agree with them.”

And why didn’t the White House ask Congress to amend the FISA law to clearly allow the NSA’s programs? According to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it’s because they consulted with congressional leaders and were told “that was not something we could likely get.”

And why is that in 2004, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft ? John Ashcroft! ? refused to reauthorize one of the NSA’s programs until further procedures were put in place to ensure that it wasn’t abused?

And why did District Court Judge James Robertson resign from the FISA court after the NSA’s original domestic spying program was publicly revealed last year? According to the Washington Post, he “privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court’s work.” What’s more, both the current and former heads of the FISA court have “expressed serious doubts about whether the warrantless monitoring of phone calls and e-mails ordered by Bush was legal.”

Bottom line: cut the crap about how the NSA “fully complies with the law and the Constitution.” If that were the case, the president would be eager to test it in court and clear up all doubt. The reason he’s not is pretty obvious: he knows perfectly well he’d lose.

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