The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, July 14, 2006

Specter boasts of spying deal with the admin. But why?

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter has been vacillating on the whole issue of domestice spying by the White House for some time now. Would he demand Congressional oversight, and insist that the administration follow the law, or knuckle under to their demands?

Specter's solution seems to be claiming the former, while tacitly acknowledging the latter.

Specter said the legislation, which has not yet been made public, was the result of "tortuous" negotiations with the White House since June.

"If the bill is not changed, the president will submit the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," Specter said. "That is the president's commitment."

It wasn't immediately clear how strong or enduring the judicial oversight would be.

An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bill's language gives the president the option of submitting the program to the intelligence court, rather than making the review a requirement.

The official said that Bush will submit to the court review as long the bill is not changed, adding that the legislation preserves the right of future presidents to skip the court review.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee's senior Democrat, said Bush could submit the program to the court right now, if he wished. He called the potential legislation "an interesting bargain."

"He's saying, if you do every single thing I tell you to do, I'll do what I should have done anyway," Leahy said.

Glenn Greenwald writes that many papers are reporting uncritically that the White House has agreed to make concessions, while the actual language of the bill gives them just about all the power they wanted.