Monday, December 22, 2008

Top Congressional Democrats Complicit in Spying Too?

As month after month went by with little or no action from Democrats in Congress on the issue of wiretapping - ending with the passage of a FISA bill that EXPANDED executive power and gave the telecoms retroactive immunity - a question that surely must be posed is why? Why has the Democratic leadership been so asleep at the wheel on this issue?

One prominent reason - many believe - is due to the complicity in the program by leading Congressional Democrats. This argument has been made especially effectively by's Glenn Greenwald, and has now been confirmed by none other than Dick Cheney in one of his recent "historical revisionism world tour" interviews. With Cheney one can never tell if he's lying or telling the truth, but I lean towards accepting, at least to a degree, his assertions on this issue. As Greenwald notes, by the least the Democratic leaders Cheney names should respond to his claims...and if they don't, the guilt and complicity become all the more apparent.

Greenwald writes:

Dick Cheney's interview yesterday with Fox's Chris Wallace was filled with significant claims, but certainly among the most significant was his detailed narration of how the administration, and Cheney personally, told numerous Democratic Congressional leaders -- repeatedly and in detail -- about the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. And, according to Cheney, every one of those Democrats -- every last one -- not only urged its continuation, but insisted that it be kept secret:


Either way, Cheney's general claim is as clear as it is incriminating. According to him, key Congressional Democrats were told about the illegal NSA spying program in detail, and they not only actively approved of it, but far beyond that, they insisted that no Congressional authorization should even be sought, based on what was always the patently inane claim that to discuss the fact that the administration was eavesdropping on our conversations without warrants (rather than with warrants, as the law required) would be to reveal our secrets -- "our playbook" -- to Al Qaeda.

It is certainly true that Dick Cheney is not exactly the most scrupulously honest public servant around. In fact, he's almost certainly the opposite. Still, what he said yesterday was merely an expanded and more detailed version of what has previously been publicly reported and, to some degree, confirmed about the knowledge and support of Democratic leaders for the NSA program.


Unsurprisingly, Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller all voted last July to legalize warrantless eavesdropping and to immunize telecoms from liability, thereby ensuring an end to the ongoing investigations into these programs. And though he ultimately cast a meaningless vote against final passage, it was Reid's decisions as Majority Leader which played an instrumental role in ensuring passage of that bill.

One would think that these Democratic leaders would, on their own, want to respond to Cheney's claims about them and deny the truth of those claims. After all, Cheney's statement is nothing less than an accusation that they not only enthusiastically approved, but actively insisted upon the continuation and ongoing secrecy, of a blatantly illegal domestic spying program (one that several of them would, once it was made public, pretend to protest).

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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