Monday, February 06, 2006

War Powers Hearings Continue

Sam Brownback (R-Kansas).  Brings up the latest broadcast tape from al Qaeda.  Refers to the AUMF as a "war declaration."  Refers to the War on Terror as the "Cold War of our Generation."  

He's also talking about close cooperation between the executive and legislative branches being necessary to maintain public support for the "long war."  ("Long war" is the latest D.C. buzz phrase that emerged from the Quadrennial Defense Review.)

Gonzales has the good sense and grace to mention that the AUMF was not exactly a declaration of war.  Talk drifts to the Patriot Act.  

Brownback asks about what kinds of legislation Congress needs to make to support the war.  Gonzales says he'd like to consult with his experts and get back to the committee on that question.  

Brownback says he wants to fix the laws to suit the situation, and runs out of hourglass sand.


Leahy (D-Vermont) is back at bat.  

When did the administration determine the AUMF authorized warrantless wiretaps of Americans within the United States.

G-Man says it was subsequent to the passing of the AUMF and before the Patriot Act was passed.

Leahy repeats the question.  On what specific date did the administration reach its conclusions?

Gonzales repeats that FISA must be interpreted in a way that doesn't hinder presidential powers.  

Did the admin determine they had the power to ignore FISA before the AUMF

Gonzales tries to steer back to Hamdi, Leahy won't let him.

Leahy just caught Gonzales in a bald faced "disassemblage."  The business that Congress told the admin they couldn't write a law to cover the surveillance situation, Leahy calls him on it.  Gonzales has been hiding and lying.  Congress never would have found out about the NSA spy program if they hadn't read about it in the New York Times.

Gonzales is having trouble remembering specifics.

Oh! My! Gosh!  Leahy just caught Gonzales in a trap.  Were the Dems being dumb like foxes all morning?  Have they actually figured out how to beat the neo-con men at their own game?


Next round.  Orrin Hatch asks if Congress had a chance to express concerns about the NSA program.

Hatch is throwing more slow pitch softballs, trying to put blame back on the Congress, and also trying to make the Democrats responsible for everything.  

He also invokes the AUMF as justification for any and all acts by the administration.  He also makes outrageous claims about presidential powers under the Constitution, and says the NSA spying constitutes "reasonable searches."  

Hatch.  Shudder.  If he were the grandfather of my children, my children would never meet him.


Feinstein (D-California) again.  Gonzales' memory is beginning to fail him again, but that's okay.  Feinstein's line of questioning is equally scattered.  She once again invoked the term "plenary authority," as she did during the Alito hearings, once again making herself an unwitting wall in the administration echo chamber.  

Feinstein's out of her depth.  She should give up the rest of her time to Feingold and Schumer.  


Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) again, pitching underhand, making sure each question has the proper, predictable arc.  

"This is about going after al Qaeda," Gonzales says.


Explain to us how the NSA spying program almost exclusively targets innocent Americans, Berto.  


Russ Feingold (D-'s back up, and so is the tempo.  He's back to pinging Gonzales on legal specifics, and how Gonzales' previous arguments concerning precedents don't jibe with legislative timelines.  Surveillance actions taken by previous Presidents cited by Gonzales occurred prior to the enactment of the FISA law.  

Feingold appears to have his ducks lined up on the table in front of him, and Berto appears to be out of ducks.  And Feingold doesn't sound like he's of a mind to take his heel off of Berto's neck.

Feingold says Mr. Bush's remarks during the State of the Union address were misleading, and moves on.  

Now Feingold asks what else Mr. Bush has done that's legally questionable that we haven't heard about yet.  (Which I think is the other elephant that's hidden in the closet. What we've heard so far about torture, spying, and so on is just the tip of the iceberg)

Berto wants to be careful how he answers the question.  He's taking a pen and making scribbles on the pad in front of him, and declining to answer questions based on "operational considerations."


Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) back again, feeding Gonzo more straight lines, leading to "presidential authority" punch lines back from Gonzo.  

Kyl drops some seagull feces on the press for revealing the existence of the program.  


Schumer (D-New York) is back, jokes with Gonzo about how tired he must be now from a day full of bobbing and weaving.  

Schumer asks if an American's home or office has been searched without warrant warrant under the "terrorist surveillance program."

Gonzo won't give a straight answer.

Schumer won't let up.

"I'm not saying I will not answer," Gonzo says.  "I'm just saying I will not answer you at this time."

Schumer's got the so-and-so by the donut holes, and the so-and-so knows it.  

"We got a lot of questions to follow up on," Schumer says.

"I look forward to it," Gonzo  says.

"Me too, me too," says Schumer.

Schumer is rapidly becoming my number one political hero in the war to regain our republic.  


Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) back again, sharp as a basketball, giving us his interpretation of the AUMF.

It's 4:10 pm Washington time, and everybody's running out of gas, but I'm pretty sure DeWine started the day on an empty tank.  


Speaking of "out of gas," Ted Kennedy's on the mike again.  He looks like he's dying to get to happy hour at the Au Bar, and sounding like it too.  (In all fairness, he also had to go to the floor and deal with an asbestos legislation bill, which is a big deal.)

He is, however, making some good points about the wiretap abuses he's seen over his long career in the Senate.  And he's making a vital point, I think, about protecting the legal rights of the NSA spy issue whistle blowers.  


Specter's back from the floor, there's some talk about Corretta Scott King's funeral.  


Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) is back in the box too, beating the drum again about the wife of the pilot killed in 9/11 that he paraded in front of the C-SPAN cameras this morning.

He's not even bothering to pretend to question Gonzales, he's reading nonsense about presidential war powers.  

George Bush couldn't possibly hope to own a dog more loyal than Jeff Sessions.  A smarter one, maybe, but smarts don't count for much in the Bush administration.  

Gonzales almost appears to be on a diabetic overdose after listening to Sessions' diatribe.  


Joe Biden (D-Deleware).  How has revelation of this program damaged it?

Gonzales says he'll have to defer to his colleagues in intelligence.  He's just a lawyer.  

Biden finally approaches a focused line of discussion 8 minutes into this 10 minute window, but as usual the issue remains unresolved as his red light flashes.

Biden needs to take an online community college course--Get to the Point 101.  

Berto asks permission to take a short break.    


  1. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Hey, hey ease up on Ted. ;) He's done good things for people of my current state. It's been a tough life, he's getting old, but he's the last liberal hope. When he goes, true liberalism goes. Think of all the fights he's fought over the years. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

    Feingold! I misread your email and thought "Feinstein!" Too bad she's out of her element. With a bit of coaching, I think she'd be good. You know, I read a great piece on Feingold recently. If I come across it again, I'll send you the link. Based on what I read, he's primed to hold feet to the fire.

    Nice summary here, Jeff!


  2. Russ is one of a few members in Washingoton that has enough backbone to demand answers and accountablity. He is the lone ranger when it comes to protecting our civil liberties. He is a deficit hawk that won his seat in WI in 2004 by 3000% more then Kerry. He had 300,000 pro-Bush supporters vote for him.

  3. Kerstin,

    I hear what you're saying about Kennedy. I have friends in Mass who idolize him and say exactly what you said about him. He's done a lot of good things for a lot of people, and is an icon of enlightened liberalism.


    Not being from that neck of the woods, I haven't paid that much attention to Feingold before now, but I will from now on. Very impressive.

    On Feinstein:

    More than one of her constituents have mentioned how highly thought of she is in her state. I'm confident she's been doing great work, but I don't think this committee hearing business is something she's all that good at, especially when it comes to holding somebody's feet to the fire.

  4. Sessions: damn right. He's a well-trained attack dog. Keep your eye on him in 2012-2016. No, I ain't been drinkin'...!

    Think about it. President Sessions.

    Hmmm, Johnny's ZIP Lounge is open 24/7...

  5. Jeff,

    Here's hoping Sessions bites a kid and gets put down before that happens.