Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

  Selling the Constitution down the river, one vote at a time

The Democrats in Congress, who rarely offer more than tepid opposition to the outrages Republicans have been commiting in Washington since 2001, are especially supine when it comes to defending the Constitution. Hence, as feared, most Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Pat Roberts' fiefdom) voted to confirm Gen. Hayden as the next CIA Director.

This is the man who instituted programs at the NSA to wiretap Americans in America, without warrant, in direct violation of federal wiretap law, of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, and Article Four of the Constitution--not to mention the basic principle that the NSA should never, ever be permitted to spy upon the United States. This is the man who kept these programs secret from the nation and from Congress. This is the man who has tried to deceive about the nature and scope of these programs, as reports began to leak out.

Heck, this is the man who, when asked at his confirmation hearings whether water-boarding of prisoners is legal, answered that he wished to respond in closed session. The right answer, of course, was "No."

In short, this is a man who seems to believe that anything the President tells him to do is legal per se. He is the perfect civil servant, for a dictatorship.

Why would anybody vote to confirm this man, apart from sheer partisanship (as we expect from all the Republicans on that Committee)? What possible reason could Democrats have for selling the Constitution down the river again?

The committee's vice chairman, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, also offered warm praise, saying that General Hayden "has shown the necessary independence that is essential to restoring the C.I.A.'s credibility and stature."

It's unclear what "necessary independence" Sen. Rockefeller was refering to....certainly NOT the kind Hayden employed when he instituted an unconstitutional surveillance program.

Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, lauded the nominee as a man of competence and integrity but said, "My confidence in General Hayden should not be interpreted as confidence in this administration."

I'm glad Sen. Mikulski added that statement at the end, because otherwise I could not have distinguished her vote to confirm from those of all the Republicans. By "competence", in any case, I take it she is refering to the billions (with a "B") of dollars that Hayden lavished on the Trailblazer boondoggle at NSA.

As Senator Carl Levin said of his 'yes' vote,

"He has shown some independence and some backbone."

As I rummage through my memory of the General's career, I'm trying to locate the occasion when this occured. Perhaps it was just after 9/11/01 when Hayden famously stood up to George Bush? It's all a bit hazy now, but didn't Hayden insist that he would institute that illegal NSA surveillance program, despite the administration's desire to stay within the boundaries of the law?

To be entirely fair to Senators Rockefeller and Levin, they did have the sense to vote against the nomination of Porter Goss last year. Congressman Goss was an utter partisan hack, an obvious incompetent.

But this time the only Democrats on the Committee who showed the sense or integrity to vote against the appointment of the scofflaw General were Sen. Wyden, Sen. Bayh, and Sen. Feingold.

I voted against the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be Director of the CIA because I am not convinced that the nominee respects the rule of law and Congress’s oversight responsibilities. General Hayden is highly experienced and talented. But, as Director of the NSA, General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge. Having finally been briefed about this program last week, I am more convinced than ever that it is illegal....

General Hayden’s conduct and testimony also raise serious questions about his willingness to respect congressional oversight. He was complicit in the Administration’s failure to inform the full congressional intelligence committees about the warrantless surveillance program, even though this notification is required by law. In his testimony, he repeatedly failed to explain or criticize the Administration’s failure to inform the full committees about the program. And he declined to commit to notifying the full committees about all intelligence activities, as is required by law.

In other words, General Hayden will continue to be a silent partner in governing. Evidently, the other Senate Democrats welcome that.

I'm sure there must be some reason for supporting the cause of these fools in the November election, but at the moment I just can't recall what that is.



  • Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a few other NGOs, have designated June Torture Awareness Month. I've created a blogroll you can join if you're interested. You can find it here. The idea is that everyone is linked to from the blogroll, and in exchange, you discuss torture (as you already do), and link to the Torture Awareness site to help support the NGOs.

    There's a lot of bloggers concerned about human rights abuse in the War on Terror. If we coordinate, we can show our support and help Amnesty and HRW make Torture Awareness Month a success

    By Blogger elendil, at 6:41 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home