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Roberts' committee won't investigate "warrantless wiretapping"

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There won't be a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the so-called "warrantless wiretapping" program.[The Washington Post][1] 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][2] 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][3] 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.:][4] 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:][5] 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:][6] 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:][7] 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.][8] [1]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/07/AR2006030701549.html [2]: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-nsa8mar08,0,6693034.story?coll=la-home-nation [3]: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/08/politics/08nsa.html?hp&ex=1141880400&en=7402b982a1503c71&ei=5094&partner=homepage [4]: http://www.dcist.com/archives/2006/03/07/flat_tax_in_dc.php [5]: http://www.cjp.org/content_display.html?ArticleID=178593 [6]: http://www.brownfieldnetwork.com/gestalt/go.cfm?objectid=D69ABD02-D6F7-8B20-CA2BE772F811E3AC [7]: http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/business/industries/aviation/14042796.htm [8]: http://ljworld.com/extra/where_to_write.html#fed

Comments

tellitasitis 9 years, 4 months ago

Pat Roberts should find somewhere else to put in his time. He is hurting not only the nation but the citizens of Kansas. His committee gives no oversight, they are just mouthpieces for the Bush/Cheney Arab White House. All patriots who value the United States Constitution and the rule of law should take action to get Roberts out of the congress. He is part of the criminal element in D.C.

Jamesaust 9 years, 4 months ago

Hey, let's keep two things in mind:

A) Even virtually all Democrats say that at least the described wiretapping - know terrorists or affiliates contacting people within the U.S. electronically - SHOULD be occurring; they primarily object to the extralegal manner this has been done - setting a precedent that the Executive is all-powerful and the Legislature is irrelevant.

B) However disappointing the lack of perceptiveness of moderate Republicans, who after all, laregely agree with and need to get along with their fellow pachyderms, nothing (!) can compare to the lack of spine demonstrated by the Democrats. One day, comments from Rockefeller, or Reid, or Pelosi, or Dean, would make one think that the Dictatorship was upon us; the next day, these same Dems can't even spell filibuster. Let's get one thing straight: the Senate (unlike the House) CANNOT function without the willing consent of the whole. If the Dems wanted to shut things down through Election Day, they could EASILY do so. Instead, all we hear today are some petulant remarks from Rockefeller and a hollow threat from Dean to push an investigation later AFTER the Democrats take back power. Now who is going to give these willows power?

pat_k 9 years, 4 months ago

Recall Senator "Peeping Pat" Roberts!!

He has obstructed investigation after investigation and now he wants to make sure the American people never know the the extent of Bush's program of surveillance of Americans without a warrant.

For a sample resolution calling for Senator Roberts' resignation, go to:

http://thedeanpeople.org/recall_sen_roberts.html

magnificentbastard 9 years, 4 months ago

Pat Roberts has not just become a sorry excuse for a legislator but the worst possible person to represent the state of Kansas in any way shape of form. He is a shell of a human being without so much as a shred of dignity for himself, his state or his country. He is quite simply incapable of representing a colony of ants let a lone the independent minded strong willed people of Kansas. I would pity his weakness if he weren't under the illusion he had some semblence of autonomy and actually represented me. Instead I pity him and hope the people of this country and more importantly God will judge him based on his more reasonable accomplishments, however far back they have to go to find them.

badger 9 years, 4 months ago

A year ago, I was upset that there were sealed warrants being issued by secret courts to spy on US citizens.

Now I would be glad to have at least that much.

Baille 9 years, 4 months ago

Roberts concedes and trades his responsibility as a check and balance to an Administration bent on the consolidation of power - power that was abused under COINTELPRO and will be abused again if not monitored carefully. However, there is no meaningful oversight and this does nothing to address past abuse.

There should be an independent prosecutor appointed.

Porter 9 years, 4 months ago

I still can't understand how this isn't considered important news in other publications, tv, etc. Nobody who watches the evening news fully understands how powerful this administration has become. When elected senators are afraid to offend the President, it's gone too far. Why is this only being discussed on blogs? Does nobody else care that congress will not be investigating these alleged constitutional violations? I'm not calling for impeachment, just an explanation. Why is it ok to ignore the FISA laws? What happens now, does it just get dropped? I heard rumblings about lawsuits from individuals against the Bush administration's wiretapping. Has anyone heard any news on those lawsuits?

Jamesaust 9 years, 4 months ago

My sources back in DC are divided - either the 'swing' Republicans were cowed into submission by threats to remove them from the Intelligence Committee altogether, or they fell to personal foibles - Sen. Snowe (who likes to be at the center of attention) and Sen. Hagel who wants to run for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2008.

The 'deal' supposedly doesn't sit well with Sen. Specter (although I wouldn't hold my breath over him - he's already proven to be an easy pushover). It also rhetorically promises obeisance to the FISA court but in reality substitutes 4 Republicans (the 4 Repubs on the 7 man 'subcommitte') for the Court. The White House apparently has agreed to seek warrants "whenever possible," which is like compromising with your kid, moving from 'take out the trash' to 'take out the trash whenever possible.' The 'deal' also violates Congress' own original NSA act, which requires reporting to the whole of the Intelligence Committee. From a purely personal (and partisan) note, seeing that a plurality of persons in every state, including Kansas, apparently have concluded that the laws have been broken, I fear that voters may conclude that the one-party state that DC has become can only be kept honest by a 'regime change' (although if anyone can pull defeat from victory, it'd be the current DNC).

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