March 03, 2006

The Time is Now

Very important things are happening now and they are happening fast. This is a real moment in the history of this nation. What are the limits of Presidential power? Is the President bound by the law? Those questions are being decided at this moment in the halls of the Senate. Please make your opinions known to the Senators who matter most at this crossroads in our history: Hagel and Snowe on the Inteeligence Committe and Specter and Graham on Judiciary.

It is the time for action. The NSA spying investigation is at a critical moment. It is time -- it is urgent -- that pressure be brought to bear on all vital Congresspeople. We must ensure passage of the Rockefeller bill in Sen Intel to authorize a meaningful investigation into the Bush Administration's FISA lawbreaking. And we must ensure the defeat of DeWine's Nixon Law in Judiciary that would sweep it under the rug ("if the president does it, that means it's not illegal"). I have already contacted all of the above senators and I urge all of those who care about this issue to do the same immediately.

Now is the time! This may all be decided by next Tuesday. The Bush Adminstration is in full pressure mode to get the Senate Republicans to whitewash this criminal activity.

This is from yesterday's LATimes:

Republican senators reported progress Wednesday toward developing legislation that would impose stricter congressional and judicial oversight on the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program.

Senators who took part in an ad hoc working group said there was agreement that Congress should permit such National Security Agency intercepts as long as the administration would be required to seek a court warrant at some point after a terrorist suspect had been identified. The legislation also would increase the number of members of Congress who are kept informed about the surveillance activities, probably through a special subcommittee in each chamber.

Under the program authorized by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, the NSA does not need a warrant to intercept international communications by people in the United States with suspected links to terrorists.

Lawmakers said that divisions remained on many specifics, though, and that it was too soon to describe the discussions as reaching a consensus.

"We've got to get it resolved, and we can't bring anything to the floor until we have agreement among the core senators, which we don't have yet," said Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees, whose proposal appeared to be gaining support among Republican leaders.

A meeting convened Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) "produced great progress in unifying senators around a core approach to terrorist surveillance legislation," Frist said in a statement.

The White House, as I understand it, has agreed to nothing so far, but is undoubtedly hoping for a global resolution capped by the Nixon Law. The Bush Administration is likely hoping that it can can get away with agreeing to only further cosmetic Congressional oversight. The deal is that the Senate Judiciary Committe will be the vehicle for the Nixon Law, which is why Frist told DeWine (the Nixon Law proponent) and Spector to come up with a single bill the White House and Senate Republicans can live with.

There are many moving parts in this, and it is unclear what the resolution will be. However, this is the critical period because the Senate Intelligence Committee meets again on Tuesday and that appears to be the deadline for an agreement. If no agreement has been reached by then, Hagel and Snowe have said they will vote in favor of Rockefeller's broad investigation.