Yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, stated in a press briefing that the White House has run out of time to respond to his subpoenas to turn over documents regarding the illegal NSA warrantless spying program. As a result, when Congress comes back in session, if the White House still hasn’t complied, the Judiciary Committee will vote on contempt of Congress charges.
…And interestingly enough, I pointed out that every single one of these subpoenas, they have been issued by a bipartisan vote. There have been no close votes on them.
So I would hope they’d do it. And, if not, the full Judiciary Committee will have to sit down and determine whether to seek contempt from the full Senate.
As fascinating and wonderful as that prospect is to contemplate, I felt the other revelations in Senator Leahy’s statement were even more amazing.
Apparently the 109th Congress – the REPUBLICAN-LED Congress – was also very concerned about the warrantless wiretapping program. Arlen Specter and other members of the Judiciary Committee attempted to get the information, but something very strange happened.
QUESTION: Is your impression they’re dragging their feet?
LEAHY: Well, you know, a lot of these questions were asked by the former chairman a couple years ago, and we haven’t gotten an answer.
In fact, we were about to issue subpoenas then and one of the senators came to our meeting and said that the vice president had met with the Republican senators and told them they were not allowed to issue subpoenas.
Not quite sure that’s my understanding of the separation of powers, but it seemed to work at that time…
Not only that, but yesterday, Cheney apparently repeated his claim that he was not a part of the executive branch.
Incidentally, in the administration’s response today, they claimed the Office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Office of the President. So it’s some kind of fourth branch of government.
Well, that’s wrong. Both the United States Code says it is part of the president — oh, incidentally, at least this morning, as I left Vermont, I checked the White House Web site. And even their own Web site, this morning, at least, says that the Executive Office — that the vice president is part of the Executive Office of the President.
Now let’s put this into a smaller perspective for a second. You suspect that your 13-year-old child is doing drugs. You knock on your child’s door, and yell that you’re going to search his/her room for such drugs. The child responds,
“First of all, Mom, I forbid you to search my room. Second of all, I’ve decided I’m not your child any more, and third of all, NYAH NYAH NYAH, YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”
As the child’s parent, you are legally within your right to search the child’s room. Furthermore, it is your duty to provide oversight of the child’s activities, and of course, the child certainly cannot decide not to be your progeny! Finally, the child’s last so-called point is nothing but a last-ditch effort to prevent you from doing your job as a parent. (It won’t, but it will most likely result in an even harsher punishment than you would have prescribed at first! The nerve of that brat!)
Like the fictional child in my example, Dick Cheney’s argument rests on nothing, and it’s astonishing that a grown person – a person who holds the second highest political office in our country – would resort to such childish and ridiculous tactics. We can be absolutely certain that the documents the Judiciary Committee has requested are damning beyond all redemption.
As Senator Leahy said, the Republican Senators bought the act at the time. But thankfully for our country, oversight is back. I hope Dick Cheney likes the color orange, because he’s going to be wearing it for a long time.