Oh, Didn't You Get My Invitation?

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the Senate's most persistent Republican critic of the Bush administration's lawless surveillance program, is miffed that Vice President Dick Cheney has tried to cut him out of the loop on the issue. When Cheney met with the other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in an attempt to tamp down any talk of investigating the NSA's surveillance program or seeking judicial review of it, Specter wasn't invited:

Mr. Specter, who had been considering issuing subpoenas to compel telephone company executives to testify, learned of Mr. Cheney's actions only when he went into a closed meeting of the committee's Republicans on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after encountering the vice president at a weekly luncheon of all Senate Republicans.

Mr. Specter's tone in the letter [to Cheney] was restrained, but he made no effort to hide his displeasure at having been outmaneuvered and, in his view, undermined, by Mr. Cheney.

"I was surprised, to say the least, that you sought to influence, really determine, the action of the committee without calling me first, or at least calling me at some point," Mr. Specter wrote. "This was especially perplexing since we both attended the Republican senators caucus lunch yesterday and I walked directly in front of you on at least two occasions en route from the buffet to my table."

In a letter back to Specter, Cheney insists "these communications are not unusual–they are the government at work," while Specter retorts: "He does not face head on; he does not deal with his not having taken it up with the chairman….This isn't me personally; this is institutional. This is not the way government works, to deal with a committee without going through the chairman."

Although the argument has the flavor of a note-passing squabble between schoolgirls ("I KNOW you saw me in the cafeteria! I walked right in front of you!"), with any luck Specter's personal pique will encourage him to persist in asking the right questions about the president's disdain for the law.

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  1. with any luck Specter’s personal pique will encourage him to persist in asking the right questions about the president’s disdain for the law.

    HAHAHAHAHA – That’s hilarious.

    He might ask the right questions…and then he will promptly accept whatever answers to those questions that the Executive tells him as acceptable.

    Isn’t this the same Arlen Specter whose action have been exactly opposite on everything he has stated publicly since his tough re-election?

    Specter is a beaten down dog. He may bark here and there, but when his master’s raise a hand to him, he cowers and seeks cover.

  2. Or were you talking about this Arlen Specter Specter:

    The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed legislation that would give President Bush the option of seeking a warrant from a special court for an electronic surveillance program such as the one being conducted by the National Security Agency

    Doesn’t Bush already have that option? Didn’t he explicitly reject that option?? So what happens if Bush just ignores the “option”?? Probably, he will just keep doing whatever he is doing right now.

    But at least Specter decided to get tough for anyone who might have broken any laws before this new tough law passes…

    Another part of the Specter bill would grant blanket amnesty to anyone who authorized warrantless surveillance under presidential authority, a provision that seems to ensure that no one would be held criminally liable if the current program is found illegal under present law.

    Wow. After all that chest thumping and big talk by Mr. Chairman — this is how he asserts the power of Congress as a check on the Executive?

    Pathetic.

  3. I have come on here a couple of times and proposed a wealth based, rather than income based, tax to support the military and other US security apparatus.

  4. In a letter back to Specter, Cheney insists “these communications are not unusual–they are the government at work,”

    When are people going to realize that the three words “goverment at work” should generate considerable fear and loathing?

  5. Say what you will about Arlen Specter; he’s still the least embarrassing Republican senator from Pennsylvania by far.

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