Monday, July 24, 2006

and it just keeps coming....

Yesterday, arlen specter wrote a critical letter to cheney over our v.p.'s involvement in the proceedings following the revelation of the whole 'listening in on our phone calls/reading our emails' thing (I volunteered to let them read my journal, too. It's full of pretty hearts and stars).

Im pretty unqualified to comment on politics, being that I am filled with far more curiosity than I am with knowledge, but certain things I feel entitled to comment on (passive aggressively, of course) because they are more fact than opinion based.

Now given that specter, a republican, and cheney have always seemed pretty chummy but that specter went ahead and voted against the amendment to ban gay marriage the other day, I kinda wanna hope that maybe he's seeing the light a bit and that he may actually mean what he says with his threats in this letter he wrote (which you can download as a pdf HERE).

It is, as wolf blitzer said, "very strong," strong enough to get me excited. and then the cynic in me emerges with the thought that perhaps it's just political theatrics and specter will never make good on his threats, but I must admit that it feels a little victorious just to read them.

Some brief coverage, courtesy of the BBC.


A senior Republican has accused US Vice-President Dick Cheney of trying to influence an inquiry into the legality of a domestic surveillance programme.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter said Mr Cheney had worked against his efforts to mount a hearing.

President Bush ordered the wiretap programme after 9/11, allowing international phone calls and emails by US citizens to be monitored.

Reports surfaced in May that millions of domestic records were also gathered.

In an open letter to Mr Cheney, Mr Specter accused the vice-president of lobbying other Judiciary Committee members to dissuade them from holding a hearing.

"It is neither pleasant nor easy to raise these issues with the administration of my own party, but I do so because of their importance," he wrote.

"I was advised... that you had called Republican members of the Judiciary Committee lobbying them to oppose any Judiciary Committee hearing - even a closed one - with the telephone companies."


Mr Specter, who has threatened to issue subpoenas to force witnesses to testify, said he hoped to avoid " a constitutional conflict between the Congress and the president".

Allegations stir debate

Last month, allegations surfaced that the National Security Agency had asked all the major phone companies for access to their records of all calls.

The senator wants to question telephone company executives to find out to what extent they contributed to the surveillance programme.

The domestic spying programme allows the NSA to monitor international telephone calls and emails of US citizens without obtaining a warrant if it is in pursuit of al-Qaeda suspects.

Critics argue that the programme violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which requires approval from a secret federal court for domestic monitoring involving US citizens.

Mr Specter wants the NSA programme to be subject to a review by the court.

Last month, President Bush defended the surveillance programme, saying that all intelligence activities he authorised were lawful and targeted al-Qaeda.

A spokeswoman for Mr Cheney said the vice-president had not yet studied the letter but that the White House was prepared to consider congressional measures to bring the programme under federal law, Reuters reported.

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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