Specter Threatens to Cut Wiretap Funding
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, growing increasingly frustrated with the Administration's stonewall tactics on the extralegal warrantless NSA wiretap program, has suggested he will propose legislation to cut all funding for the surveillance. Specter threatened the move, which he calls a "measure of last resort" because of continued unwillingness from the Bush folks to either comply with current law or agree to abide by a new framework.
Said Specter "What's the use of passing another statute if the president won't pay any attention to it? When you talk about withholding funds, there you're talking about a real authority." The LATimes reports that a draft of Specter's funding cutoff "would prohibit the use of funds for domestic electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes 'unless Congress is kept fully and currently informed.' In particular, the proposed bill would require the administration to brief all members of the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees."
With the window of opportunity to get anything done on this front slowly closing (the public's attention has already been refocused on, well, gas prices), Specter needs to move fast. I agree that some step should be taken that will make clear to the Administration that Congress takes its responsibilities in this area very seriously, and this might be the way to do that.