Monday, February 06, 2006

NSA Hearings, Updatable...

Did I say I was too tired to get pissed off this morning? I'm sufficiently coffeed now.

How fascinating that Arlen Specter declined to swear in AG Gonzales. How fascinating that, after Feingold demanded a roll call vote from the committee on putting AG under oath, Specter claimed to have proxy votes from two committee members who weren't present, but refused to show them. I don't think you need to be a certified cynic to wonder what purpose any hearing of this level serves when the testimony is not sworn. Apparently the question of 4th Amendment violations are not if the same pressing importance as, say, the use of steroids by Major League Baseball players. If memory serves, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were required to take the oath before testifying.

Hyperbole and deliberate distortions by Gonzales so far (10:23 EST). Updates by the minute, I'm sure, particularly when Feingold and Kennedy speak.

10:32 EST: Gonzales is ducking the issue of retroactive FISA warrants by claiming answering would compromise the classified nature of the details of the program, er, ahem, The Program. A commenter on Glenn Greenwald's blog suggested that each question should end with, "Is this how you would answer if you were UNDER OATH?"

10:36EST: Specter actually calling AG on declining to go to Congress for approval because he knew the approval was not likely to be granted ("not likely to be granted" here meaning "likely to send Congress rolling in laughter before tossing you out on your ass"). AG ducking and weaving like The Champ. Leahy up next.

10:39EST: Leahy not taking any bullshit. AG brow-sweating.

10:44EST: Zoom. Leahy goes for the kill. "Where in the authorization of all necessary force is the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens permitted?" AG: Uh, uh, ah, sir, um... Leahy: "... what you call a cumbersome procedure, but what most people would call a simple procedure, to go get FISA authorization..." Oh, snap. Leahy: "Mr. Attorney General, you're not answering my question." Ba-zing. Bob. Weave. Duck. "Al Qaida!"

10:49EST: Hatch up. Jesus fucking Christ. He's still promoting the facade of this being about "foreign intelligence."

10:57EST: Hatch repeats the falsehood that authorizing the Prez to take all necessary action to "protect us" somehow exempts him from following the law. And he continues Hayden's distortion of the 4th Amendment, emphasizing "reasonable" over "without a warrant." Kennedy up next.

11:06EST: Goddammit. Kennedy pulled a Biden rather than asking any of the simple, pointed questions that could have been asked at this point. All his diatribe did was open the door for AG to reiterate his "we believed The Program was lawful" speech. Fuck-o-matic.

11:14EST: Debra Burlingame, sister of Flight 77 pilot, repeating the Administration line. Appeal to emotion. 'Nuff said.

11:28EST: Biden calls for secret hearings to avoid issues of classified information, says the failure to do so seriously calls into question Congress performing its assigned duties of oversight. "When will we know when this war is over?" AG: when AQ is destroyed and no longer poses a threat to the US. Biden: "In truth, we will not know when we have won... because AQ has morphed into several different organizations.. as long as any of them are there, you will continue to assert that you have this plenary authority." AG: Ah, I'll have to study that.

11:33EST: Apparently one Biden-like performance is required in each hearing, and Kennedy fulfilled that obligation during his ten minutes, freeing Biden himself to ask concise, pointed questions.Can you assure us that no one is being spied on who shouldn't be? AG: I can't give absolute assurance. Biden: Who can? AG: We have safeguards...

11:40EST: Biden: We need assurance that no one is being eavesdropped on unless it's emanating from foreign soil, with that assurance under oath, under penalty of law if they misrepresent themselves to this committee... not that I'm suggesting this attorney general is doing so...

11:50EST: Kyl: Congress has an important oversight role, but other entities have equally important oversight responsibilities--especially the president! Fox, henhouse. Henhouse, fox.

11:57EST: Kohl: Is there anything the president cannot do in a time of war? AG: we think he's acting within an Act of Congress. AG points out Congress many war-related roles, including declaring war, in support of his argument that the wartime president does not operate in a vacuum... ignoring the fact that there has was no Congressional Declaration of War in the first place.

12:10EST: AG: The FISA requirements for getting warrants just take too much time. So the president can ignore them when he feels like not making much of an effort. Given this president's penchant for avoiding work, well, I guess that's that.

And speaking of avoiding work, I gotta get back to it. Oh my head.

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