Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Two Republican Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee have joined Democratic Senators in calling for a Senate investigation of the Bush administration's domestic NSA spying operation, according to this Reuters story by Adam Entonus.

The significance of this is that Republicans on Senate Intell. are breaking party ranks in calling for the congressional probe, and also defying the White House which opposes any inquiry.

Joining the Democrats were Republican Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. The proposed congressional probe would be a joint inquiry by both the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I have a brand new, long reported out column and appreciation of the columnist and muckraker Jack Anderson posted tonight at the Village Voice. I worked for Jack when I was still just a kid, when I was 18 and 19 years old. And to anyone who likes anything about my own journalism, many of my wayward journalistic values come from that early, arrested time in my professional development.

The appreciaton is in some part derived from my earlier blog post immediately following my learning of his death. But I have a few additional interesting comments about Jack from Seymour Hersh and, also, from Mark Feldstein, an Anderson protege who is now writing a biography of him for FSG.

A couple of anecdotes from the Voice column:

He always enjoyed a good prank. In his memoirs, "Peace, War, and Politics: An Eyewitness Account", published in 1999, Anderson wrote about how I once called up a notoriously pro-Richard Nixon columnist, Victor Lasky, and impersonated Nixon. Lasky never for a moment doubted that he was talking to the ex-president. What Jack left out of the story was that he put me up to the call in the first place, and that he was listening in on the extension the whole time.

And a better one about Feldstein, who went on becone a great investigative reporter for CNN, and is now a journalism professor at George Washington University:

Still in braces, Feldstein landed an internship with Jack when he was 16 and still in high school. Feldstein had on the tie he had worn to his Bar Mitzvah day as he accompanied Gary Cohn, then another young Anderson reporter, to interview a Congressman. The Congressman called security on them, believing them to be impostors.

While Jack wasn't helping bring down the Nixon presidency, safeguarding democracy from the likes of J. Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy, and writing the most widely read political column of his day--he served the public as well by keeping us kids off the streets!

"[O]n December 6, President Bush summoned New York Times publisher Arthur Szulberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futule attempt to talk them out of running the story," according to Jonathan Alter.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee sent this handwritten letter to Vice President Cheney on July 17, 2003, after being told by Cheney of the covert domest NSA domestic spying program.

Unbelievable. Some excerpts:

I am writing to reiterate my concern regarding the sensitive intelligence issues we discussed today.

Clearly the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues. As you know, I am neither a technician or an attorney. Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel, on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities...

I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed letter envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure I have a record of this communication.

The former Senate Majority and Minority leader, Tom Daschle, says tonight in a statement that the White House “omitted key details” from him related to the NSA interception program, directly contradicting statements by President Bush that Congress was fully informed. Expect the congressional notification issue to get major play in tomorrow’s newspapers, and in coming days, as other members begin to more publicly discuss what they were and were not told.

For now, here is the full text of Daschle’s statement tonight:

Between 2002 and 2004, the White House notified me in classified briefings about NSA programs related to the war on terrorism. The briefers made clear they were not seeking my advice or consent, but were simply informing me about new actions. If subsequent public accounts are accurate, it now also appears the briefers omitted key details, including important information about the scope of the program.

Even with some of the more troublesome - and potentially illegal - details omitted, I still raised significant concern about these actions. As such, I am surprised and disappointed that the White House would now suggest that none of us informed of the program objected.

As a result of the significant legal and security concerns raised by the President's actions, I believe it is incumbent on the President to explain the specific legal justification for his actions, for the Congress to fully investigate these actions, and for the Administration to fully cooperate with that investigation.