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Feb 20 / Jonathan

NSA follies

Does the warrantless-wiretapping flap really accrue to the benefit of the Bush administration? Glenn Greenwald thinks not, and adduces a pile of convincing evidence that the administration doesn’t think so either.

While spouting that bravado, the Administration’s actions reveal that they fear this scandal and want more than anything for it to disappear. At every turn, they have tried to prevent a meaningful investigation into the legality of their actions. If the NSA scandal is really the political weapon which the GOP can use to bash Democrats as being weak on national security, wouldn’t the White House be doing the opposite – that is, encouraging every hearing and investigation possible?

Especially telling is an editorial from “the Pat Roberts-loving Wichita Eagle“.

Many Kansans, including members of The Eagle editorial board, have long admired Sen. Pat Roberts for his plainspokenness and reputation for fair brokering of issues.

So it’s troubling that Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is fast gaining the reputation in Washington, D.C., as a reliable partisan apologist for the Bush administration on intelligence and security controversies.

We hope that’s not true. But Roberts’ credibility is on the line….

This week, Roberts sidetracked a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into the possibly illegal National Security Agency wiretap program, saying the White House had agreed to brief lawmakers more regularly and to work with him on a behind-the-scenes “fix” of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That prompted a scathing New York Times editorial Friday headlined “Doing the President’s Dirty Work,” which opined: “Is there any aspect of President Bush’s miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?”…

But whether the law needs a “fix” is far from certain. Roberts’ deal could thwart Congress’ duty to learn more about and evaluate this program, while securing from the White House only a vague pledge to talk about fixing the law down the road….

What’s bothering many, though, is that Roberts seems prepared to write the Bush team a series of blank checks to conduct the war on terror, even to the point of ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law.

That’s not oversight — it’s looking the other way.

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