Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Checks and Imbalance

Apparently the president decides when president’s programs need to be investigated.
President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the anti-terror eavesdropping program that intercepts Americans' international calls and e-mails, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday.

Bush refused to grant security clearances for department investigators who were looking into the role Justice lawyers played in crafting the program, under which the National Security Agency listens in on telephone calls and reads e-mail without court approval, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Without access to the sensitive program, the department's Office of Professional Responsibility closed its investigation in April.
Arlen Specter barked a bit at Gonzalez...
"It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?" Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the committee chairman, asked Gonzales.
...but by most accounts he’s preparing to play ball with the White House by proposing a bill aimed at bringing the surveillance program under the review of the FISA court.
Last week, Gonzales said the bill gives Bush the option of submitting the NSA program to the intelligence court, rather than requiring the review. Specter said Tuesday Bush assured him he will seek the court review if the legislation passes without significant amendment.
So the president who killed the Justice Department investigation of the surveillance program will be given the option of submitting the program for FISA review. Nice to see the legislative branch standing up for itself.