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Will Democrats on Roberts' Intel Committee be silenced?

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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][1], 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:][2] 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:][3] 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:][4] 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:][5] 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.][6] [1]: http://frist.senate.gov/_files/030306.pdf [2]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030400867_2.html [3]: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0039735.cfm [4]: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-gop6mar06,1,6186017.story?coll=la-headlines-nation [5]: http://www.meforum.org/article/917 [6]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

Comments

Jamesaust 9 years, 2 months ago

"The unique bipartisan nature of this committee is its greatest strength and is essential to the ability of the committee to develop a consensus product and to avoid all of the politics of our Nation's intelligence activities. . . The legislative record reflects that the Senators who really created the Intelligence Committee believed--this is so important--that the less partisan nature of the committee would serve to make the intelligence community more willing to keep the Congress fully and currently informed of highly sensitive intelligence activity." -- Pat Roberts, January 14, 2003.

So, lets get this straight - three Republicans (Hagel, Snow, and DeWine) threaten to vote with the Democrats in a bipartisan manner, and that creates "stifling partisanship"?

Prediction: tomorrow there will be a vote on Sen. Rockefeller's motion to investigate and it WILL pass. Frist (previously known for his ability to diagnose medical conditions using only heavily edited video in contravention of any standard of ethics), probably the most pathetic Senate Majority Leader to hold that post in modern times, seems to be out of tricks to protect the Bush Administration from a full accounting.

This all comes after Attorney General Gonzales submitted this letter: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/nationalsecurity/gonazles.letter.pdf in which he basically takes the perfectly clear-cut answers previously delivered to the Intelligence Committee (although not under oath at the insistence of Sen. Roberts) and "clarifies" them. Translation: the original answers were false and misleading. Read the letter for yourself.

Indeed, after pointing out that Gonzales' frequent limitation of his answers to "this" program must mean that there is 'another' program, it has become more apparent that since (a) whole foreign electronic communications are not protected constitutionally or legally, and (b) the current imbroglio involves domestic-to-international communications then it must be true that the 'other' program involves DOMESTIC-to-DOMESTIC wiretapping without warrant.

Hence, the Administration's refusal to provide any answer to these two questions:

  1. Does the Executive engage in warrantless eavesdropping on purely domestic communications?

  2. Does the Executive engage in warrantless eavesdropping on the communications of Americans when there is no reasonable basis for believing that one of the parties to the call is an agent or affiliate of a terrorist group?

An affirmative answer to either question would trigger impeachment hearings by a Republican/Democrat majority. The question is: impeachment of the President ... or the Vice-President?

bige1030 9 years, 2 months ago

Senate Intelligence Committee...isn't that an oxymoron, especially after seeing this?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Contacting senators from other states to inform them than we do not stand behind this behavior would be very good. Sen. Frist is not a man in good standing in this house with very good reason.

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

badger 9 years, 2 months ago

It's not Roberts talking about restructuring committees, it's Frist.

Good call, there, fellas. Way to show how much you think the President has nothing to hide, by 'restructuring' into silence a bunch of people who just want to know the same thing I do:

Why weren't the warrants issued per the conventions of the FISA, which not only provides for a three-day window after the fact but also has a better security record than the CIA these days?

Because shutting up people asking questions instead of addressing the questions, that's so totally going to help your failing credibility.

DaREEKKU 9 years, 2 months ago

You shouldn't silence the minority, you should embrace dissenting opinions from all sides.....Pat Roberts needs his priorities readjusted.

rhd99 9 years, 2 months ago

Silence by our government is UNACCEPTABLE. Senator Roberts, with all due respect, put up or SHUT UP! Talk the talk or walk the walk or come election time you'll get your walking papers. START TALKING!

rhd99 9 years, 2 months ago

DaREEKKU, it's time for the Democrats of Kansas to stand up. If Pat Roberts doesn't readjust his priorities, we will readjust his priorities for him at the voting booths if the Kansas Democrats take the lead. Silencing debate on Intelligence issues that have impacts on our lives in terms of freedom of speech is NOT an option. Roberts should have known better. I have a saying & it goes like this: Silence imposed by a few will only strengthen the loud voices of many. We (you & I) are among the many. Roberts MAY be powerful, but if the Democrats come together this year, then Kline & Roberts are among just a few who like many of our fellow Kansans will be without a job.

Curious 9 years, 2 months ago

I take it you are all part of the "information longs to be free" crowd.
Do you know that the minority sometimes asks for things they really DON'T want - just to be ornery? Or to set up the adults. Kind of like kids do. What we really need is more adults on the Senate Intelligence Committee - not so many aids doing all the work and making all the news.

Reminds me of a committee I was on once. We were asked to keep some information confidential. One person changed their mind and decided it shouldn't be confidential anyway. Boy, what a mess! We ended up having to deal with a "pouting child" and supporters after they were found out instead of getting on with business. Not to mention the loss of trust of our committee and organization in the community.

Senate Intelligence Committee almost by definition means things are to be confidential. How is it we know so much that goes on there? Someone is leaking - and that must be controlled. What our elected representatives know, we know - without having to know it.

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