From NYT's David D. Kirkpatrick and Scott Shane:
G.O.P. Senators Say Accord Is Set on Wiretapping
Moving to tamp down Democratic calls for an investigation of the administration's domestic eavesdropping program, Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that they had reached agreement with the White House on proposed bills to impose new oversight but allow wiretapping without warrants for up to 45 days.
The agreement, hashed out in weeks of negotiations between Vice President Dick Cheney and Republicans critical of the program, dashes Democratic hopes of starting a full committee investigation because the proposal won the support of Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine. The two, both Republicans, had threatened to support a fuller inquiry if the White House did not disclose more about the program to Congress.
"We are reasserting Congressional responsibility and oversight," Ms. Snowe said.
My right eye, Olympia. The president of the United States broke the law and violated the Constitution and you just let him off the hook.
Kirkpatrick and Shane write that "The measure would require the administration to seek a warrant from the court whenever possible."
Who decides when it's not possible? Donald Duck?
Supposedly, if the administration decides to spy without a warrant, Alberto Gonzales has 45 days to explain why to a Senate subcommittee. Will he have to take an oath?
Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) made a statement supporting the bill (shock, awe), but it's not clear whether all Senate Republicans will back it.
Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) is making grumpy noises about things. "We're having quite a time in getting responses to questions as to what has happened with the electronic surveillance program," he said, and claimed he's put the administration "on notice" that he might try to block the program's funding if Gonzales doesn't get more cooperative pronto.
Is there anyone in the Senate better than acting tough before he rolls over than Arlen Specter?
Democrats aren't backing down.
Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) says the proposed bill is like a doctor making a diagnosis on an unexamined patient. "Congress doesn't have that great a history in reforming programs it knows a lot about," he said. "Here Congress is trying to legislate in the dark."
John D. Rockefeller IV (D-West Virginia) puts things a bit more starkly. "The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House."
Which means nothing changes, and it's back to business as usual in the Land of Bush.
Some Republicans insist that they held the White House's feet to the fire. Ms. Snowe insisted the proposed deal had met "considerable resistance" from the White House. And Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who helped broker the deal maintains that its "the agreement we insisted on."
Pat Roberts stood up to Dick Cheney?
Sure. Yeah. Right.
Bring on the flying purple pigs.