LJWorld.com weblogs Congressional Briefing
Roberts' committee won't investigate "warrantless wiretapping"
There won't be a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the so-called "warrantless wiretapping" program.[The Washington Post] reports: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted along party lines yesterday to reject a Democratic proposal to investigate the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program and instead approved establishing, with White House approval, a seven-member panel to oversee the effort.Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) _told reporters after the closed session that he had asked the committee "to reject confrontation in favor of accommodation" and that the new subcommittee, which he described as "an accommodation with the White House," would "conduct oversight of the terrorist surveillance program." The program, which became public in December, has allowed the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mails between U.S. residents and suspected terrorists abroad without first obtaining warrants from a secret court that handles such matters.The panel's vice chairman,_ Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), took a sharply different view of yesterday's outcome. "The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House through its chairman," he told reporters. "At the direction of the White House, the Republican majority has voted down my motion to have a careful and fact-based review of the National Security Agency's surveillance eavesdropping activities inside the United States."[The Los Angeles Times] adds: _Republicans rejected Rockefeller's view and said that the deal reached Tuesday required the White House to back down from its long-standing refusal to provide information on the domestic surveillance operation to more than a handful of lawmakers."We should fight the enemy, not each other," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the chairman of the committee.Roberts said Republicans also were working with the White House on legislation that would give the government clearer authority to monitor Americans' international phone calls and e-mails, but would place some new controls on such eavesdropping.The deal announced Tuesday would create a subcommittee with seven members - four Republicans and three Democrats - that would get regular briefings on the domestic surveillance activities of the National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on calls and e-mail traffic around the world.Rockefeller said that giving seven members of the committee expanded access to information on the program left eight remaining members of panel in the dark._[The New York Times] explains that the agreement requires the Bush Administration to start seeking warrants for the program:_The agreement would reinforce the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was created in 1978 to issue special warrants for spying but was sidestepped by the administration. The measure would require the administration to seek a warrant from the court whenever possible.If the administration elects not to do so after 45 days, the attorney general must certify that the surveillance is necessary to protect the country and explain to the subcommittee why the administration has not sought a warrant. The attorney general would be required to give an update to the subcommittee every 45 days._Other links:Sam Brownback links[(dcist.com commentary)Flat Tax in D.C. Could Move Forward.:] A few months back we reported that Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) was tossing around the idea of using the District as a testing ground for a flat tax. Given that he chairs the Senate's Appropriations Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, has presidential aspirations and nowhere else to use as his own personal "laboratory," this has always been a distinct possibility. And now it may come to pass, reports WJLA. Tomorrow Brownback will chair a hearing to further explore the issue, one that he has openly proclaimed to be excited about. His excitement may be tempered by stiff opposition from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, though, their non-voting status notwithstanding. The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in 124 Dirksen.[(Combined Jewish Philanthropies) For Politicians and Candidates, AIPAC Event is a Time to Shine:] The upcoming Israeli election was not the only race for head of state on the minds of participants at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference. The three-day gathering this week featured major policy addresses by four likely American presidential candidates in 2008, all of whom have been out of the foreign-policy spotlight in recent years. More candidates with their eyes on 2008 shook hands throughout the Monday night gala. Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and George Allen (R-Va.) made appearances, as did Kerry.Jerry Moran links[(Brownfield) House Ag Committee holds week-end hearings:] Members of the House Ag Committee were in California and Nebraska for farm bill field hearings this weekend. The Committee heard testimony in Stockton, California Friday followed and Nebraska City, Nebraska, Saturday. Kansas Republican Jerry Moran said the producers testifying at the Nebraska hearing explained just how important the next farm bill is to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.Todd Tiahrt links[(Wichita Eagle) Tiahrt seeks answer on aviation fees:] ransportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Tuesday he does not intend to impose user fees on general aviation to boost revenues for the Aviation Trust Fund. Wichita's general aviation planemakers and others in the industry adamantly oppose the fees. The trust fund helps to finance the Federal Aviation Administration, which operates the nation's air system. The issue arose in a House Transportation-Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Tuesday. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, said he asked Mineta whether he intended to impose the fees. "His answer was very short and very clear," Tiahrt said. "He said, 'No.' "How to contact As always, you can find information to contact members of the Kansas congressional delegation [here.] : http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/07/AR2006030701549.html : http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-nsa8mar08,0,6693034.story?coll=la-home-nation : http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/08/politics/08nsa.html?hp&ex=1141880400&en=7402b982a1503c71&ei=5094&partner=homepage : http://www.dcist.com/archives/2006/03/07/flat_tax_in_dc.php : http://www.cjp.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=178593 : http://www.brownfieldnetwork.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=D69ABD02-D6F7-8B20-CA2BE772F811E3AC : http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/business/industries/aviation/14042796.htm : http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed