Domestic Spying

DOMESTIC SPYING….The Bush administration wants to change the rules that govern domestic spying, but oddly enough, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are skeptical of the intelligence community’s explanation:

With little apparent success, they portrayed the administration bill as merely an adjustment to technological changes wrought by cellphones, e-mail and the Internet since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was enacted in the 1970s.

….But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) responded, “We look through the lens of the past to judge how much we can trust you.”

….[Sen. John] Rockefeller pressed a demand for documents and was joined by vice chair Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.). “There is simply no excuse for not providing to this committee all the legal opinions on the president’s program,” Rockefeller said.

I’d say their skepticism is well founded. Remember Bush’s promise last January to put the NSA’s domestic wiretapping program under control of the FISA court? During the same hearing, they backed down from that too: “The president’s authority under Article II is in the Constitution,” Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell told Russ Feingold. “So if the president chose to exercise Article II authority, that would be the president’s call.”

Translation: the president’s promise to Congress is meaningless. Glad we got that cleared up.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation