Sunday :: Jan 22, 2006

Looking For The Right Endgame In The NSA Spying Mess

by Steve

McCain came out this morning and said that Bush doesn’t have the authority to authorize NSA domestic spying, and in essence said that if we have the hearings and Bush seeks that authority from Congress, he would probably get it. John Kerry said basically the same thing this morning.

There seems to be a rational approach developing on this matter that would also be a trap for the White House. Former Reagan Administration Justice Department official Bruce Fein said the other day that Democrats should re-evaluate their strategy in approaching this issue, away from the confrontationally "it was illegal and needs to be shut down" approach, and towards a "come to Congress, admit some overreach or sloppiness, and seek the proper authority" approach.

As much as many of us may not like this approach, it has a poison pill in it that Democrats can benefit from. What McCain and Kerry are saying is that Bush overstepped and went into illegal territory and now needs to come to Congress and seek authority for the data mining, and an adjustment of the FISA.

What is left unsaid are two things:

1. Will Congress give Bush authority to eviscerate the FISA and its courts?

2. Bush doesn’t think he needs to ask Congress for authority to do any of this.

And that is where Fein, McCain, and Kerry would trap the White House, hoisting them on their petard of unchecked executive power. The hearings would serve to point out that the administration doesn’t think it needs to, nor does it want to ask Congress for the authority. And voters will then see the choice in front of them: a nation of laws, or a nation of men who think they are above the law, aided and abetted by terrified bedwetters in the media like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, and a GOP and its Kool-Aid drinking supporters who are so scared of their own shadows that they want Bush to protect them by overriding the Constitution.

Fein argues that if after the Congress, and especially the Democrats afford the White House the chance at the hearings to seek authority and admit to going overboard, the White House instead says "forget it, you aren’t relevant here", then the Democrats are in a much better position to drum up issues for 2006 and impeachment discussions. He has a point, and it would put those 6-7 GOP senators like McCain, Lindsay Graham, Arlen Specter, Sam Brownback, and Dick Lugar out on an iceberg while their president argued that he was above them, Congress, and the law.

Steve :: 12:25 PM :: Comments (54) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!