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    05 February 2006

    Administrations Rational for Spying is "strained and unrealistic" - Repub Senator

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    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) told Tim Rusert today that:
    "I think that contention is very strained and unrealistic. The authorization for use of force never mentions electronic surveillance," Specter said.

    In response to written questions submitted to him by Specter before the hearing, Gonzales gives an explanation why the administration bypassed the FISA court: "The delay inherent in the FISA process is incompatible with the narrow purpose of this early warning system."

    Specter, however, said that response "was not entirely responsive. ... His answer wasn't really clear." The senator said there is no reason why the administration could not have consulted with the spy court or Congress, who could have changed the law if it was too cumbersome.

    The response wasn't a response. It was more talking points on the defense of the program and its necessity. The only way they can defend it is by praying that the executive has eroded the other two wings of this government away enough to be able to get through this without getting in trouble. In a sense, this is the first check of the unitary executive (sub. req.) created by friends of the Bush administration.

    More from the show today:
    Specter, R-Pa., said he might consider subpoenas for administration documents that would detail its legal justification for the program.

    "The president could've taken this there and lay it on the line," Specter said, citing the special court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

    "That court has an outstanding record of not leaking. They would be pre-eminently well-qualified to evaluate this program and say it's OK or not OK," Specter told NBC's "Meet the Press."
    ...
    "The president's authority to take military action — including the use of communications intelligence targeted at the enemy — does not come merely from his constitutional powers. It comes directly from Congress as well," in that post-Sept. 11 resolution, according to Gonzales' prepared testimony for the hearing. The Associated Press on Saturday obtained a copy of his scheduled remarks.

    Specter was skeptical.

    As are we.

    Posted by Geoff

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