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Will Democrats on Roberts' Intel Committee be silenced?
Big changes might be in store for the Senate Intelligence Committee which is, of course, chaired by Kansas' own Sen. Pat Roberts.With Democrats on the committee pushing Roberts for an investigation into the National Security Agency's so-called warrantless wiretapping program - an investigation Roberts has said is not needed and the Bush Administration wants to avoid - Majority Leader Bill Frist has threatened, essentially, to silence the minority party.On Friday, [Frist sent a letter to Minority Leader Harry Reid], saying that unless Democrats back away from their investigation demands, Frist might restructure the committee.The Intel Committee is unique in Congress, set up with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans to provide "nonpartisan" oversight of national security. That means Roberts can't set the agenda to the extent that other committee chairmen in the Senate can, and that Democrats - otherwise outnumbered in both houses of Congress - have a power they don't have on those other committees.But Democrats' calls for investigation, Frist said, have introduced an unacceptably partisan edge to committee work."I am increasingly concerned that the Senate Intelligence Committee is unable to carry out its critically important oversight and threat assessment responsibilities due to stifling partisanship that is exhibited through repeated calls by Democrats on the committee to conduct politically motivated investigations," Frist wrote.If those attempts persist, Frist wrote, he might restructure the committee "so that it is organized and operated like most Senate committees.No word yet on what Roberts thinks of all this, and media coverage of the issue has been scant.Other links today:Pat Roberts links[(Washington Post) White House Trains Efforts on Media Leaks:] The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws. ... Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said last month that he is considering legislation that would criminalize the leaking of a wider range of classified information than what is now covered by law. The measure would be similar to earlier legislation that was vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and opposed by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft in 2002.Sam Brownback links[(Family News in Focus) Broadcast Indecency Bill Refined:] Senator Sam Brownback wants to narrow the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act to improve its chance of passage. The House has already approved increasing fines on broadcasters to $500,000 for indecency violations but Senator Ted Stevens has worked to add language that changes the definition of indecency to include obscene and profane speech and includes cable channels to the list of programmers that the FCC can penalize. While pro family groups generally like the additions John Rankin, a Spokesman for Senator Sam Brownback, says they could hinder passage. "Senator Brownback's position is that we should move forward on this issue on the areas that we all agree which is to increase fines which currently are so small that they hardly serve as a deterrent for broadcasters."[(LA Times) GOP to Get Early Look at Leading Hopefuls for '08:] On Thursday, the Republican race will gain new prominence when more than 1,500 GOP activists gather in Memphis, Tenn., for three days of politicking and speeches. A highlight will be appearances by several of the party's top presidential hopefuls, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, an early front-runner for the Republican nod. McCain, Frist, Romney and Allen are all set to speak this week in Memphis, along with Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who are also possible White House contestants.[(Armed Forces Journal commentary) Memoir's of a president's man:] A year and a half after his departure from Baghdad and the dissolution of the CPA, Bremer has produced a memoir that seeks to recast and rehabilitate his leadership of postwar Iraq. ... It is possible that Bremer, insulated as he was by his aides, was unaware of the extent to which Green Zone orders failed to translate into Iraqi realities. In October 2003, CPA chief of staff Pat Kennedy refused to put forward telephone calls from Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who had queries regarding growing infringement on religious freedom. Three months later, members of religious militias still posted themselves in front of public schools, refusing entry to girls who did not conform to their notions of religious dress.How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.] : http://frist.senate.gov/_files/030306.pdf : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030400867_2.html : http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0039735.cfm : http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gop6mar06,1,6186017.story?coll=la-headlines-nation : http://www.meforum.org/article/917 : http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed