Saturday :: Feb 18, 2006

Pat Roberts Pushes Back Against White House - Or Not?

by Steve

It looks like Pat Roberts, of all people, has pulled a fast one on the White House, and hung Mike DeWine out to dry at the same time. We were all gloomily berating the Senate GOP leadership yesterday for caving in to Dick Cheney and nixing a full congressional inquiry into the NSA spying programs after Shooter had pressured Roberts and others to kill any attempt to establish any congressional and judicial oversight of the administration’s illegal domestic spying activities. It appeared that Roberts was on the verge of supporting a whitewash proposal by DeWine that would have killed off Arlen Specter’s demands for FISA court review of the program.

Well, not so fast. Roberts now says that despite White House opposition, he supports Specter’s FISA court review demand, and on top of that, he wants the full Intelligence Committees to be regularly briefed on the domestic spying programs, again against the White House’s wishes. It seems that Roberts and Specter have joined up on this issue, and in the process hung out to dry DeWine, who may have been free-agenting on this case without working through Roberts. It now makes DeWine look like the ultimate rubber-stamper for the White House, and frankly it also makes Hagel and Olympia Snowe look bad, who both did a 180 from their earlier strong statements of concern over the spying programs and folded like a cheap suit this week to White House pressure.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that he wanted the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program brought under the authority of a special intelligence court, a move President Bush has argued is not necessary.
Mr. Roberts spoke in an interview a day after announcing that the White House, in a turnabout, had agreed to open discussions about changing surveillance law. By Friday, with Mr. Roberts apparently stung by accusations that he had caved to White House pressure not to investigate the eavesdropping without warrants, it appeared the talks could put the White House and Congress on a collision course.

Update: Well, after LeftyDem tipped me off to this, it appears that Roberts' staff director is going against his boss and indicating that Roberts will not support turning this issue over to the FISA court, as Specter wants. So, is Roberts simply doing a feint to get people off his back, as some of you suspected?

Hat tip to Bob Fertik at and Judd Legum for additional information

Steve :: 1:05 PM :: Comments (14) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!