Thursday, June 28, 2007

So Dick's not a part of the executive branch

Just love it when our leaders in congress gang up against injustice (sorry the links aren't working again so here's the scoop)

Panel pushes for files on spy program
White House, Cheney get subpoenas
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | June 28, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday issued subpoenas to the Bush administration for documents related to its warrantless surveillance program, elevating a long-simmering dispute between Congress and the White House over classified national-security information into a possible constitutional showdown.

The Bush administration did not say yesterday whether it would comply with the subpoenas, which were addressed to the White House, the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the National Security Council, and the Justice Department. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration "will respond appropriately" to the committee's action, even as he condemned it.
"It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation," Fratto said.
However, only three of the nine Republicans on the committee voted against authorizing the subpoenas, which were approved by a 13-to-3 vote. The committee, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, has been seeking information about the program and questioning its legality since The New York Times revealed its existence in December 2005.
"Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of ad ministration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," wrote Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy , Democrat of Vermont, in a letter accompanying the subpoenas. "There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee. The administration cannot thwart the Congress's conduct of its constitutional duties with sweeping assertions of secrecy and privilege."
Congress gave administration officials until July 18 to comply with its demand for information. If the administration refuses , the committee and then full Senate would have to vote on whether to cite the officials for criminal contempt, which could lead to a lengthy battle over executive privilege and the constitutional separation of powers.
Since 1975, according to the Congressional Research Service, 10 senior executive branch officials have been cited for contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents. In all 10 instances, however, the executive branch worked out a deal that satisfied Congress before any criminal proceedings were initiated.
Specifically, the committee is seeking documents related to White House authorization and reauthorization of the warrantless surveillance program, internal memos analyzing whether the surveillance is legal, agreements with telecommunications companies that assisted in the spying, orders by a secret national-security court regarding the program, and papers concerning President Bush's decision to shut down an in-house Justice Department investigation related to the program.
The program dates to the weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush signed an order authorizing the military's National Security Agency to monitor Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without a judge's approval.
A 1978 statute makes it a felony to conduct such surveillance without a warrant, but the president's legal team secretly asserted that his wartime powers include an unwritten right to bypass such laws at his own discretion. Cheney and his counsel, David Addington , were the leading proponents of the program and the controversial legal theory supporting it, former administration lawyers have said.

To Tony Fratto I say " It's unfortunate that this administration has and continues to violate the Constitution of the United States." You people remind me more and more of the Sapranos every day. And if Cheney says he's not part of the executive then he has no executive privilege.

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