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February 20, 2006

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Toadies, one and all. I'm sorry, but there's simply no integrity or self-respect whatsoever in the GOP these days. Even the moderates (Snow, Collins) fold when faced with WH coercion.

Makes me think of Roy Batty's line in Blade Runner: "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it's like to be a slave."

No doubt others have observed this before me, but I have always found the word "oversight" to be rich in irony when applied to Congress.

1. watchful care : general supervision : MANAGEMENT

2. an act of overlooking or something overlooked

Perhaps the Republicans have simply chosen the second meaning.

"Toadies, one and all. I'm sorry"

Nah. Humans are human, and the egoistic preening popinjays who become Senators are at least as human as the rest of us. Since people never change, some objective condition or conditions external to both sets of participants has changed. Just perfect storm stuff, accidents and intent coalescing coincidentally into a brief tornado.

We very rarely have such efficient government, 1933 and 1965 come to mind, it rarely lasts this long, thank goodness, and usually is surrounded by the curse of interesting history. This hegemony will soon collapse, followed by things both better and worse, instead of just bad.

This too will pass, with a hangover that hurts for a generation.

It seems rather odd to me to post about what Congress is and isn't doing about the NSA "program," but not to mention that four days ago the House Intelligence Committee leaders agreed to conduct hearings and and investigation of the program, and that for weeks Representative Heather Wilson (R-AZ) has been declaring the need for said investigation.

"One of the committees best suited to hold such hearings is the Intelligence Committee. Its members know...."

There are two Intelligence Committees; not one.

I mean, the House of Representatives counts as much as the Senate does, doesn't it? And the House Intelligence Committee? Why entirely ignore the slightly good news, and an entire body of Congress?

Also, while I throughly agree with directing all possible attention to, and condemnation of, Pat Roberts' generally spineless and servile attitude towards the White House, and his latest vague statements about "fixing" FISA -- except, wait, rereading this post, there's nothing in there about that at all, actually, unless I'm missing it -- but what I was going to say was that the news from two days ago that Roberts was now calling for the NSA "Program" to come under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court jurisdiction was pretty significant, if still only a step in the right directions, and to blog on the subject would even mentioning this seems downright, well, a pretty major omission, to me. (I've been holding off on blogging about it until at least sometime Monday morning or afternoon, out of a general desire to take a few days off from angry blogging and obligatory blogging).

Basically, what seems odd to me about this post is that it seems almost as if it could have been written last Thursday, as it doesn't seem to address any of the major developments on the issues that have taken place in the last few days.

"But I can't think of anything good to say about the current state of congressional oversight...."

Nothing at all about Heather Wilson, and the House Intel Committee? I'd also throw Lindsay Graham a bone, myself.

I think that is slightly ungenerous of you, Gary. Hil is using the example of some rather naked parliamentary manuevering as a springboard into a more general point that Congress has been pretty poor in exercising their oversight perogatives. I wish I was as sanguine about it as Bob, but I'm not there yet.

So: the White House is threatening to withhold money and political support from anyone who votes against them, and promising to reward anyone who votes their way…

I think that’s called politics :) Seriously – you toe the party line you get on the good committees and the President comes to your fundraiser. It’s tough to make a case that this is anything different or new, or that the opposition party does not engage in the same behavior.


Moreover, they have a reputation for discretion

Here I have to disagree with you completely. Primarily due to one individual.

Rockefeller – I would be opposed to this man being exposed to any more sensitive information than absolutely necessary. He has been at the center of several intelligence leaks. Notice I did not say “responsible for” or “to blame for” – just that he has been at the center of some significant leaks. In fact some are claiming he is the very leak on this entire NSA issue (which I have not seen substantiated). At a minimum, he was incredibly irresponsible criticizing a secret project in open session because he felt it was “stunningly expensive”. While he didn’t actually give away specific details, his comments were enough to lead to plenty of reasonable speculation on what the program was. The very existence of the program was secret, and there is no question that he gave away the existence of the program in open session. I don’t believe the man should be trusted with any more detail on this program.

OCSteve, could you give us some links to the allegations of Rockefeller and leaks? I've seen this floating around, but precisely which leaks and which allegations? Goss said this in his testimony, and this seems to have been related to the secret prisons in Eastern Europe. I realize that you say they are unsubstantiated, but I would be interested in seeing where these accusations come from. I am familiar with the Babbin accusation, but is there anything else other than that? Unfortunately, googling babbin + Rockefeller brings up a list of links that don't reassure me of the truth of that accusation.

thx

It’s tough to make a case that this is anything different or new, or that the opposition party does not engage in the same behavior.

Can you offer an actual example of Bill Clinton attempting to avoid impeachment by sending his Chief of Staff to threaten Democratic congressmen with withdrawal of financial support unless they vote "correctly"?

Even if you can - and I'm genuinely interested to see if you can come up with a Clinton example of "the same behavior", as this seems to be a standard right-wing talking point that's rarely based in fact -Clinton's impeachment was only about the Whitewater nonsense, a purely invented scandal, rather than about a truly serious and bipartisan issue - whether the President has the right to tap phonecalls without getting a warrant.

It's unclear to me what a Congressional investigation would accomplish. Does anybody think that Bush would really cancel the program just because a bunch of guys in suits from down the street decided it was a bad idea?

Quite so, Stentor: how dare the people's elected representatives tell King George what to do!

Considering Bush's current approval ratings, the bigger threat would be to have him campaign for anyone who voted against him.

Gary, although I realize the basic truth of what you are saying, that there has always been a fair amount of quid pro quo in politics, I think this administraion has gone further than most in the arm-twisting direction, probably most obvious in the Medicare Drug Plan where the vote was held open for 2 hours to bring recalcitrant Republicans back into line.

And although the points you mention have taken place, the general consensus of what I have read is that they are looking to see how they can either bring FISA into line with the program, or the program into line with the law, thereby skipping the basic question of whether the program was legal or not in the first place.

I am not surprised by the fact that it is in the House where the biggest chance for some rebellious Republicans to make themselves heard is. After all, they are all up for reelection and they are listening more closely to the people where even in some "safe" Republican districts there is growing discontent with this adminsitration.

OCSteve, could you give us some links to the allegations of Rockefeller and leaks? I've seen this floating around, but precisely which leaks and which allegations?

This is the biggest one in my mind: Probe sought of spy satellite program leaks

What is not an allegation, not in dispute, is that he discussed the existence of the program in session – that is on the record.

NYT if you prefer.


Can you offer an actual example of Bill Clinton attempting to avoid impeachment by sending his Chief of Staff to threaten Democratic congressmen with withdrawal of financial support unless they vote "correctly"?

I wasn’t going for Clinton or impeachment or anything beyond business as usual. All I mean is that the house and senate leaders, the party chairmen, and of course the president exert pressure on the party members all the time. Why do you think we have so many votes “along party lines”? So of course Rove has his little black book. I just don’t find anything new or different here.

OCSteve, that is only one leak, specifically about a satellite program which I don't really understand how it is related to the question of warrentless wiretaps discussed by Hilzoy. Am I missing something?

I was going to point out that the House is conducting hearings into the NSA wiretaps, but I see that Gary Farber, the human wire service, has already done so. :)

On the larger issue, however, I agree. Congress has been way too hesitant to assert its Constitutional role over the last couple of years.

OCSteve: All I mean is that the house and senate leaders, the party chairmen, and of course the president exert pressure on the party members all the time.

This particular instance is an issue where the President has done something which may well be illegal. He does not deny doing it, he merely asserts he was entitled to do it.

If you are claiming that suppression of any Congress-level examination of possible criminal actions by the President and his administration is only "business as usual", and is equally committed by both parties, then you will have to come up with some example of such suppression (or attempted suppression) by the Democratic party. Otherwise, plainly it is not business as usual, but is, like the Abramoff scandal, a purely Republican problem.

The most obvious situation I assumed you were thinking of - if you were thinking of anything in particular - was Clinton's alleged criminal behavior in the Whitewater case. What example can you offer of "business as usual" attempted suppression of an investigation into allegedly criminal behavior?

OCSteve, that is only one leak, specifically about a satellite program which I don't really understand how it is related to the question of warrentless wiretaps discussed by Hilzoy. Am I missing something?


Ah, that's the stealth reconaissance satellite program. If it's got anything to do with the NSA "wiretap" program, it's that it's there to gather EM radiation in the form of cell phone communications. I don't actually know this, and I find it in any event unlikely unless the program has been around long enough to actually fielded hardware.

"Wiretap" itself is inappropriate in this context, I might add.

Thanks Slarti for swooping in with the correx but what word would you recommend? Googling to find information requires that you give the most often used word, not the correct one, unfortunately. I got 1260 stories on google news, so I would suggest that any other term needs to get at least 600.

Also, since the question is access to the switches, I don't see how the satellite question has anything to do with that. Don't mean to jump on the newbie, but isn't that a little red herring?

"OCSteve, could you give us some links to the allegations of Rockefeller and leaks?"

I haven't seen the accuations, but I can guess. OCSteve is, I expect, referring to "Misty," the covert satellite program, and likely to the network of covert terrorist prisons said to have been in Eastern Europe, Thailand, and elsewhere, including possibly aboard a cargo ship. He's referring, I think, to the NSA Program. Possibly other stuff.

I think this is all slanderous, myself. There's no evidence whatever, that I'm aware of, that points to Senator Rockefellar in any of these things, and neither are there are any damaging details that have been given away in any of these cases.

Here is a post about Misty. People have been talking about it for years, and, moreover, occasionally spotting it. Life sucks when you try to hide launches, and satellites; it doesn't take a Congressman to leak them.

Moreover, due to that little fact, spending tens of billions on the project is tens of billions of dollars that can't be spent elsewhere in the ~$44 billion yearly intelligence budget. Congress is supposed to make the budget. When the intelligence budget is largely "black," i.e., secret, and can't be debated, there is no, hey, what's the word? Oh, yeah, oversight, and there's no debate on what's wise spending and what isn't.

It used to be a Republican idea that we should avoid waste in government spending. It used to be a Republican idea that government tends to be wasteful. It used to be a Republican idea that government can't be trusted to supervise itself.

Those days are long gone, and now if you try to defend any of the above, you're a traitorous terrorsymp.

Meanwhile, if there is the faintest shred of evidence to point to Senator Rockefellar as a leaker of classified intel, I'd like to see it. Until then, I'll say that I've heard a rumor that Senator Roberts is leaking classified intel, has been taking money from the Chinese, is having an affair with a beautiful Russian spy in a classic honey pot operation, was sharing bribe money with Duke Cunningham, and is actually a Salafi Moslem.

Hey, it's just a rumor.

"At a minimum, he was incredibly irresponsible criticizing a secret project in open session because he felt it was “stunningly expensive”. While he didn’t actually give away specific details, his comments were enough to lead to plenty of reasonable speculation on what the program was."

Hogwash. Your own cite demonstrates this is complete nonsense:

The existence of the first stealth satellite, launched under a program known as Misty, was first reported by Jeffrey T. Richelson in his 2001 book, "The Wizards of Langley: Inside the C.I.A.'s Directorate of Science and Technology." Mr. Richelson said the first such satellite was launched from the space shuttle Atlantis in March 1990.
End of story. (Although I also pointed out that satellite watchers have been spotting the thing on and off for years.

See, here's the vital thing: things that are classified aren't necessarily secret.

When something is known, it's known. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. That the government under Bush has launched massive re-classification programs, and massive slow-downs and cut-backs in declassifying, doesn't mean that they are actually classifying things that are secret, or that they are, in fact, in the least protecting our nation with these acts.

In fact, what they're largely doing, is engaging in acts highly destructive to our classification program, and our ability to actually keep secret things which should be kept secret. Because if you expand classification, a) it costs lots of money to pay people to do it; b) it lessens the regard anyone has for classification as the worth of classification is diluted and applied to material of little or no value; c) when you classify material solely for political reasons, to cover up politically embarassing spending, waste, or errors, you destroy respect for the classification system; d) when you are not protecting the U.S., but misusing the classification system to cover your political ass, people notice -- and lose respect for the system and reason to respect it.

This is not, dare I say, a service to the United States of America. It is a perversion that seeks to take advantage of loyalty to country that is instead twisted into serving only the interests of a political party.

Defending that is not patriotism as I understand it.

My guess is that the smear rumors on Rockefeller-as-untrustworthy-leaker were occasioned by his sad little handwritten note after being "briefed" on the NSA program.

That note makes clear why having administration appointees give one-way presentatiosn to eight members of Congress cannot be meaningful oversight.

Without it, there would be damned little sign that any representatives or Senators had the will to commit oversight, or the understanding that the current situation falls ridiculously short of the constitutionally envisioned check on executive power.

To be absolutely clear: "The very existence of the program was secret, and there is no question that he gave away the existence of the program in open session."

This is completely false. Both parts.

The existence of the program was well-known, and had been for years. He gave away nothing in open session not known to the public for years.

This isn't about protecting American secrets from enemy foreign interests. Any claims to that effect are utter crap. This is about protecting the American public from knowing about whether or not there is wasteful spending, and this is about smearing Democrats. And that's all.

Meanwhile, whatever happened to a certain President's solemn promise to the public that anyone in the White House who leaked classified information would be fired? What about his insistence that anyone in the WH must cooperate with the investigation? Why did the Vice-President's chief of staff instead lie to the grand jury about what he said and did? (I don't have to wait for a guilty verdict to have read the evidence and conclude that there's no possible way that Libby can say one thing to the FBI and another to the grand jusry, and not conclude that he repeatedly lied, unless I instead conclude that either both the prosecution office and the grand jury are all lying, or alternately, the FBI agents are all lying; it has to be one of the three, and I know which of the three I think possible.)

Meanwhile, Misty has been public knowledge for over fifteen years, and we know nothing more about it now than we did then, and no secrets about it were revealed in or, so far as we know, from Congress. It's a useful pretense, though. That sort of accusation has successfuly worked against oppositions not just since Joe McCarthy, and not just since the Palmer Raid sera, and not just since the Dreyfus Affair, but doubtless for centuries. I seem to recall such accusations and imprisonments in the Elizabethan era, and I expect it was likely going on in Ancient Egypt and Babylonia.

Declaring people who are your political enemies to be enemies of the state has a very long pedigree indeed.

"It's unclear to me what a Congressional investigation would accomplish. Does anybody think that Bush would really cancel the program just because a bunch of guys in suits from down the street decided it was a bad idea?"

Possibly you are unclear on who in our system of government writes the laws, and funds and defunds programs. If Congress makes something legal, and the President signs the bill, and the courts don't say it's illegal, it's legal. If Congress makes something illegal, and the President signs the bill, or if the courts say something is illegal, it's illegal. If Congress defunds something, the President can't legally spend money on it (if he tries, the result is a version of Iran-Contra, and a lot of White House and executive employees get convicted of felonies).

That's what can be "accomplished," although simple regulation and court supervision is a more likely outcome -- maybe -- in this case.

John Miller: "Gary, although I realize the basic truth of what you are saying, that there has always been a fair amount of quid pro quo in politics, I think this administraion has gone further than most in the arm-twisting direction...."

You seem to have me confused with someone else, such as OCSteve.

To Gary's masterful rundown of the consequences of overclassification I would add: e) it increases the scope for prosecution of those who reveal classified information, and the chances that such prosecution will be selective, arbitrary, and/or politically motivated.

"Thanks Slarti for swooping in with the correx but what word would you recommend?

The Program.

See also: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, particularly here, here, here, particularly here, emphatically here, here, here, here, here, particularly here, here, immensely emphatically here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. For starters.

I've been screaming since last December how idiotic and minimizing it was to call this a "wiretapping" program. Naturally, I'm glad to have been paid attention to.

Probably I haven't said it enough times. That must be it.

Gary, my apologies. My mental state is not at its best today, and yes, I was referring to OCSteve.

Oh, and also here.

I think it is time for the Dems to stage a walkout on the Senate floor to protest this tactic by Roberts - again.

I've been screaming since last December how idiotic and minimizing it was to call this a "wiretapping" program. Naturally, I'm glad to have been paid attention to.

Alternatively, what's screamingly obvious to you is also, independently, screamingly obvious to others. Just so we've got that straight.

OCSteve is, I expect, referring to "Misty," the covert satellite program

Probably unrelated, OUAT I worked on a satellite program whose name was pronounced exactly the same as "Misty", but it was an acronym. Almost certainly unrelated.

I'm not too enamored of the Wired article, Gary. That this guy THOUGHT he saw Misty means little toward that he actually did. Likewise, the fact that he's established what a satellite ISN'T does some (but not nearly all) toward establishing what it IS. Not saying he's full of crap, just that I'm distrustful of such fabulistic (if that's even a word) stuff.

Hogwash. Your own cite demonstrates this is complete nonsense

“The existence of the first stealth satellite…” from 15 years ago is hardly the same thing as discussing a current large (assumed due to cost) ongoing classified program. What we are talking about here is the 3rd generation of these satellites. I had heard bits and pieces. I had certainly never heard that there was a third generation, or the scale of the program, or that Lockheed Martin was working on it… If you maintain that was all public knowledge I have to ask for sources please.


This isn't about protecting American secrets from enemy foreign interests. Any claims to that effect are utter crap. This is about protecting the American public from knowing about whether or not there is wasteful spending, and this is about smearing Democrats. And that's all.

I really don’t care about the man’s party affiliation. I don’t believe that a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence should be discussing a highly classified program in this manner. Your points about secret vs. classified are well made (and well taken). But they do not change how classified information is handled.

For the record: Plame leak = NSA leak. Investigate, track down, and prosecute the source of any and all leaks. I don’t give a crap what party they are in. I want their access to classified information shut off and I want them prosecuted hard to discourage other folks.


As a Senator, you don’t get to decide to go public with something like this because you think it is too expensive and/or ineffective and you can’t convince your colleagues to kill it. A compromise between the Senate and House (approved in both chambers) authorized spending on the program for another year. You don’t get to decide as a Senator that because you lost that vote, you get to make the existence and expense of the program known so you have a better shot at killing it next year. You just don’t. You don’t sign a secrecy pledge that says you will protect classified information as long as you agree with it and it is politically expedient. I don’t care what party you are in – treatment of classified information is non-negotiable.

As a senior Senator and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, you don’t travel to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria in January ’02 and tell each of these heads of state “that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11”.

I’m going to leave it at these 2 examples that are on the public record. You can dispute how much was previously known about Misty. I don’t think you can make the case that this man was not irresponsible (at minimum) for discussing the program in its current highly classified form. His ME tour, telling leaders (including that of Syria, on our list of state sponsors of terrorism) that the Iraq war was a done deal is in his own words. The senior minority member of the Committee on Intelligence visited and told ME leaders his opinion on what was going to happen with Iraq.

You can cry slander, bring in McCarthy, and wrap up with “Declaring people who are your political enemies to be enemies of the state has a very long pedigree indeed”.

From my perspective, this man does not belong on this committee and involving him in hearings where he would learn more detailed classified information about the NSA program would be a mistake.

No offense, Gary, but do you really think "The Program" is descriptive enough for someone watching Hardball? Does a guest have to recite your entire post, or all your posts? I suspect tweety would cut him off.

Would "datamining" be acceptable to you? If not, can you provide a phrase that would be?

Although even "datamining" might be a little obscure and esoteric for Joe Sixpack, who might wonder "What's wrong with that?"

"I wish I was as sanguine about it as Bob, but I'm not there yet."

Sanguine? Here is my prediction:"...followed by things both better and worse, instead of just bad."

Examples:1933:the better:New Deal and Integration;the worse:WWII

1965:Better:various liberation movements and environmentalism;the worse:loss in Vietnam, the Breton Woods collapse, the end of the economic/social consensus that helped kill the unions and wreck America's middle class

OCSteve: I really don’t care about the man’s party affiliation. I don’t believe that a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence should be discussing a highly classified program in this manner.

In what manner? Neither of the sources you linked to showed Senator Rockefellar had leaked any classified information. Like lj, when I googled I've seen a whole bunch of stories on right-wing blogs, but I've not found any actual concrete allegations on news stories - not even the two you linked to - that suggest he's responsible or been officially linked to any leaks of classified information at all. Indeed, the NYT says:

Mr. Rockefeller's office said earlier in the week that the senator had consulted with security officials before making a carefully worded statement on the Senate floor that described the classified program as unnecessary and too expensive, but did not identify it further.
When I see a storm of allegations on blogs of a specific political persuasion that appear not to be linked to any concrete information, you have to wonder whether a game of whispers is in process, one blog taking as fact what another blog presented as speculation.

"What example can you offer of "business as usual" attempted suppression of an investigation into allegedly criminal behavior?"

(Bob waves hand wildly in the air, Me! ME!)

Watergate and Iran-Contra. Interesting question:How would history have unfolded differently if there had been Republican majorities at those times? With Nixon surviving and prospering, likely Reagan might never have become President.

is leaking classified intel, has been taking money from the Chinese, is having an affair with a beautiful Russian spy in a classic honey pot operation, was sharing bribe money with Duke Cunningham, and is actually a Salafi Moslem

It's funny, in the version of the rumor I heard, it was Bill Frist. Maybe they're both true.

OCSteve: As a senior Senator and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, you don’t travel to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria in January ’02 and tell each of these heads of state “that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11”.

Oh, agreed. It's a terrible waste of money when those guys could learn the same thing just by reading the U.S. papers and listening to the State of the Union address.
That's how I figured it out...

Nell-
Oh, agreed. It's a terrible waste of money when those guys could learn the same thing just by reading the U.S. papers and listening to the State of the Union address.
That's how I figured it out...

LOL. Your well worded response just caused an attempted expulsion of Cheez-Its via my nasal passages. It was painful but well worth it.

And for what it is worth, I laugh because it hurts too much to cry.

How can Congress do its job when Dingy Harry Reid won't let it? The party of "no" mindlessly opposes everything the White House puts forward. It'a poisonous atmosphere, frankly, and it's a wonder they're able to get anything done.

The party of "no"

Actually, it's the party of "Noh" -- the Japanese have taken over the Democratic party and are forcing their inscrutable stage art on us all.

It's a poisonous atmosphere

No, that was a false alarm.

Actually, it's the party of "Noh" -- the Japanese have taken over the Democratic party and are forcing their inscrutable stage art on us all.

Occam's Razor forces me to yield. You have spoken the truth, and only the truth.

What, another Yellow Peril meme?

;^)

If Congress defunds something, the President can't legally spend money on it (if he tries, the result is a version of Iran-Contra, and a lot of White House and executive employees get convicted of felonies).

I think the arrests of a few low-level flunkies is a price Bush would be quite willing to pay.

Stentor,

Especially if the flunkies know (based on the example of the Iran-Contra parties) that they will be rehabilitated and given new and more powerful positions in a succeeding Republican administration.

Congress has done an extremely poor job with respect to this issue.

But the larger problem is the persistent pattern of non disclosure and secrecy from this administration,and a Congress that seems increasingly willing to go along.

Gary Wasserman, writing in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, (in an article entitled "plugging leaks, chilling debate") nailed the larger issue: ""Judge Ellis has it backward. A democratic government does not, in general, 'authorize' the information citizens are allowed. Given enough information, citizens authorize and control their government. Or at least they used to."

I think that concurrent with this trend, there has been a trend in the media to merely parrot whatever official lines have been uttered (often from both sides to an issue, in order to create the appearance of "balance,") rather than delve into the relevant underlying facts.

Althought the rationale (as well as the desire for secrecy) behind the wiretap program are apparent, as a non practicing attorney it seems to me that the legal arguments are reasonably clear cut. however, for many voters, it may be hard to get a handle on this because most of the experts quoted seem to have an agenda one way or the other, and are seemingly always offered in "balance," and, more importantly, in lieu of a simple examination of the objective, versus subjective, facts.

I think (hope) that a new blog that I began, http://www.pressthenews.com , offers proactive examples of both the role that the media plays, and that the media could play, for example, on this wiretap issue -- where perhaps more public understanding and pressure could have prompted Congress to actually do its job (rather than write silly laws and continue to spend more than it taxes). I hope you dont mind me mentioning it herein. To the folks at obsidian. excellent column.

"The best you can say about its legality is that it's debatable"

it's not really debatable, unless one maintains that anything that a particular group decides to debate, is debatable. it's not partisan, and from a constitutional and legal perspective, it's not ambiguous. why the media treats it as if it is, is probabably out of a combination of respect/fear for the fact that the administration has promulgated some arguments, that are nevertheless specious http://www.pressthenews.com/dancing_on_the_edge.html, simply kowtowing to the far right, a lack of study on the issue, http://www.pressthenews.com/mtpleaks.htm
and a fear of erroneously being labeled "liberal" for reporting on the issue objectively http://www.pressthenews.com/misc_the_const.html


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