NSA : Patriot Act tipping point? (12/20/05)

The above cartoon is from Dan Wasserman in today’s Boston Globe. Boy the bush_t hit the fan today, when John Conyers released his new report. 

There had been a lead-up, of course. 

* The New York Times story divulging Bush’s authorization of warantless snooping against Americans making international calls, which probably persuaded some Senators to vote against ending a filibuster of the Patriot Act reauthorization on Friday. 

* Senator Jay Rockerfeller releasing his handwritten letter to Cheney reaising his reservations about the NSA.

*Representative Nancy Pelosi’s December 17 statement of her sstated  reservations about, not  approval of the  notification of NSA warrentess searches. 

* John Dean telling a Beverly Hills audience Sunday that Bush had admitted to an impeachable offense.

*  Barbara Boxer’s letter to legal scholars asking if they concurred and her impressive performance today on Wolf Blitzer’s 4 p.m. Situation Room including her standing up to Blitzer in his questions about Rockerfeller.  

BOXER:  Jay Rockefeller wrote a letter in his own handwriting because he was prohibited from telling anyone about this. He wrote a letter to the vice president and put it in a safe in the Senate Intelligence Committee room and brought it out where he’s telling the vice president in this letter, “I have serious concerns about this. I’m very worried about this.” So that’s another fact, you know, that just is not an evidence that the people agreed with this. They didn’t.

BLITZER: On that point, Senator Roberts of Kansas, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disputes that point. He says that Rockefeller, who was the vice chairman, he said, “I have never heard any objection from him about this valuable program.”

Roberts goes on to say, “Now, when it appears to be politically advantageous, Senator Rockefeller has chosen to release his 2 1/2 year-old-letter. Forgive me if I find this to be inconsistent and a bit disingenuous.” So he’s challenging Senator Rockefeller.

BOXER: Well, that is just tragic. Because if Senator Rockefeller had come out with this before, he could have been kicked out of the United States Senate. This was highly classified. The only reason that…

BLITZER: But he could have spoken with Senator Roberts about it.

BOXER: Well, no. You don’t talk to anyone about it.

BLITZER: Roberts was informed also.

BOXER: Wolf, Wolf. Let’s get to the facts here. You know, if Senator Roberts has a problem with Senator Rockefeller, fine. But the bottom line is Dick Cheney said everyone who was briefed just went along with this, they were told, no one complained. That is a falsehood on its face. It’s absolutely a falsehood.

But would Blitzer have had Boxer on  if  the  House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, at Conyers request,  hadn’t filed its 273 report, The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War?

The report included copies of house resolutions to to establish a bi-partisan Select Committee in the House – H.Res. 635; to censure the President – H.Res.636; and to censure the Vice President – H.Res. 637.  I checked on Thomas, the Library of Congress’s bill search program and couldn’t find them yet.

In comments on the report, Conyers said 

The report finds there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.

The Report concludes that a number of these actions amount to “prima facie” evidence (evidence sufficiently strong to presume the allegations are true) that federal criminal laws have been violated. Legal violations span from false statements to Congress to whistleblower laws.

The Report also concludes that these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable conduct. However, because the Administration has failed to respond to requests for information about these charges, it is not yet possible to conclude that an impeachment inquiry or articles of impeachment are warranted.

Conyers wrote a letter  to President Bush advising him of his intent and invited citizens to join him in signing it.

Could this be the tipping point?

The AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, an alliance of over 100 grassroots organizations, has launched a new campaign called CensureBush.org in order to support new legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers.  They have selected January 7, 2996 for nationwide events and are asking folks to  sign up as hosts.

 The Progressive Democrats is aking voters to contact Congress in support of Conyer’s resolutions.

I’m ready to join the effort.  Today I Signed up for the Big Brass Alliance a group of progressive bloggers that support After Downing Street.  And here is the letter I wrote to Bob Goodlatte:

As your constituent, I urge you to  join in the proud tradition of Roanoke Republican Caldwell Butler and rise to the level of statesmanship in protecting the Constitution and the public’s faith in our elected officials.  Please co-sponsor and support:

*H.Res.635, to  create a select committee which will investigate the Administration and make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment regarding its  intent to go to war before congressional authorization, its possible manipulation of pre-war intelligence, its encouraging and countenancing of torture, and its retaliation against critics. .

*H.Res.637 to censure Vice President Cheney for failing to respond to requests for information concerning allegations that Administration members misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, for misstating and manipulating intelligence information regarding the justification for the war, for countenancing torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of persons in Iraq, for  permitting inappropriate retaliation against critics of the Administration, and  for failing to adequately account for certain misstatements made regarding the war.

*H.Res.636  to censure  President Bush for the above reasons and for failing to comply with Executive Order 12958.

As you already are aware, background on these charges is set out in the 273 page report produced by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff  and found at  http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/iraqrept.html.

The Constitution charges Congress with the  responsibility of  assuring our freedom by providing  checks and balances for the Executive branch of our democracy.  Please take this responsibility seriously.

Thanking you for you attention to this matter and for your public service, I remain,  Sincerely yours

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