Sunday, February 05, 2006

Wiretapping Roundup

In preparation for the start of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the president's law-skirting wiretap program on Monday, there are a few articles worthy of a read in the papers this morning.

- Maura Reynolds in the LATimes has a semi-analytical piece discussing the quandary faced by many Republican legislators: support the president because he's the leader of the GOP, or stand up for Congress' rights to pass laws and not have them circumvented by the executive branch?

- Over in the NYTimes, David Johnston and Michael Janofsky examine the role of AG Alberto Gonzales in the whole business, and how his own credibility as well as that of the Adminstration will be on the line as he goes before the Committee to defend the wiretaps.

- The best article is in the WaPo - by Barton Gellman, Dafna Linzer and Carol Leonnig, it reveals that of all those surveilled under this program, a miniscule number (if any) have actually been connected with terrorist activity. They take issue with the president's justification of the program as "if you're talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why," writing "officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no."

This article also does a good job of explaining the processes by which the eavesdropping program is carried out, going through the different stages of mechanical analysis that is, if necessary, followed up by human attention.

- There is also a very excellent preview of Gonzales' testimony (with excerpts from his planned opening statement) over at Time. They report that AGAG will tell the Judiciary Committee "I cannot and will not address operational aspects of the program or other purported activities described in press reports. These press accounts are in almost every case, in one way or another, misinformed, confused, or wrong."

He will go on to say that the warrantless taps were necessary because the time involved "may make the difference between success and failure in preventing the next attack." This argument, if it is his major justification, is the epitome of lame: FISA, as we've all learned recently, allows for action and then retroactive permission from the court within 72 hours. So they were free to take the action they needed and then do the paperwork - what's the issue? We'll see how this comes out in the questions tomorrow, I'm sure.

- The hearing is set to begin tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. At this point, it appears that C-SPAN will be airing it live. It will certainly be interesting.


Post a Comment

<< Home