Says he is “prepared to tell Congress all he knows about the alleged wrongdoing in these programs”; believes “the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions.”
This line from Alito sums up the whole day:
It’s what we call in law school the slippery slope and if you start answering the easy questions you are going to be sliding down the ski run into the hard questions, and that’s what I’m not so happy to do.
Rep. Tom DeLay’s reelection campaign sent out a fundraising letter today signed by his daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro. (Read the letter here.)
It’s quite touching:
On behalf of my mom and dad, I want to express their most heartfelt appreciation for all of the calls, e-mail, and notes of support they have received over the past forty-eight hours.
As he has done throughout his time serving in our region, Congressman DeLay once again displayed his deep commitment to the people who have elected him as their representative.
Presumably DeLay was trying to present a scandal-free face to his constituents. Dani DeLay is not the messenger to do that.
Dani DeLay has received hundreds of thousands of dollars as a paid consultant to DeLay’s political action committees, ARMPAC and TRMPAC, over the last four years. No details were provided in tax statements about what Dani did to earn her salary, and the payments were described by analysts as “unusually generous.”
But we do have some idea of what Dani was up to. In 2002, she helped organize the DeLay fundraiser for energy executives (held just before a vote on major energy legislation) that earned DeLay a censure from the House ethics committee.
She also organized a 2004 fundraiser for DeLay’s charity “Celebrations for Children,” advertised as a benefit for “abused and neglected children.” DeLay aides later admitted that “part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush’s speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.”
Even Dani’s 2002 baby shower was investigated: it was held at the Washington offices of Texas-based Reliant Energy, and attended by Jack Abramoff.
Clearly, DeLay family values run deep.
Alito has faced intense criticism for his sole dissent in the 1996 case U.S. v. Rybar, where he argued that Congress had no power under the Commerce Clause to ban fully automatic machine guns. He also added that for any regulation of machine guns, “Congress [should] be required to make findings showing a link between the regulation and its effect on interstate commerce, or that Congress or the president document such a link with empirical evidence.”
In today’s hearings, Alito attmepted to justify his ruling to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) by reiterating those standards:
I pointed out in my opinion that I would have viewed the Rybar case very differently if there had been a congressional finding or if the justice department, in presenting its argument to us, had been able to point to anything that showed that there was a substantial effect on interstate commerce, which was what the Supreme Court says is required.
But what Alito leaves out is that his justification goes against the conservative claim that he practices “judicial restraint.”
The majority in the case wrote of Alito’s proposed solution, “We know of no authority to support such a demand on Congress,” which would require the federal government to “play Show and Tell with the federal courts.”
Even Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has acknowledged that Alito “was legislating” from the bench in Rybar.
At today’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan cited a meeting with officials from former administration last week as proof that Bush is open to honest criticism about his policies in Iraq:
[T]hey know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted – we welcome that. In fact, the president has met with some of those honest critics. He met with a number of them just last week…
The president has sat down with administration officials from previous administrations, some who did not agree with the decisions, some who do not agree with everything we’re doing in terms of moving forward on that strategy, and listened to their ideas. We welcome those ideas. That’s honest critics.
That’s right, he listened to ideas from 13 officials from previous administration for “5 to 10 minutes…before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a ‘family picture.’”
weighs in on Abramoff’s partisan leanings.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has sprung to the defense of his college buddy, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, calling him “a good person.” In fact, Rohrbacher admitted he thought “a lot of other things that have been characterized as corruption on the part of Abramoff are actually standard operating procedures for lobbying in Washington, D.C. “” arranging trips and things like that.”
Let’s take a look at the beautiful friendship between the two men:
– Rohrabacher enjoyed free dinners at Signatures, Abramoff’s high-end restaurant, once or twice a month.
– Rohrabacher took one of Abramoff’s “Standard Operating Procedure”-style trips, visiting the Northern Mariana Islands while Abramoff was working to convince Congress keep factories in a U.S. territory free from complying with fair labor laws. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 28, 2005]
– Rohrabacher helped Abramoff score a $60 million loan to buy the SunCruz fleet of casino boats in Florida by allowing the lobbyist to list him as a personal reference. (Abramoff added a faked $23 million wire transfer to Rohrabacher’s reference to close the sale.)
I guess for Rohrabacher, that’s standard operating procedure.
In today’s hearing, Alito tried to defend his 1984 position that U.S. Attorney John Mitchell, who authorized illegal wiretaps of American citizens, should be immune from punishment:
I do not question that the Attorney General [Mitchell] should have this immunity, but for tactical reasons I would not raise the issue here.
Today, Alito said that he supported absolute immunity only because it was a position that Attorney General Mitchell wanted to advance at the time:
Very briefly, is that we were — there we were not just representing the government. We were representing former attorney general Mitchell in his individual capacity. He was being sued for damages, and we were, in a sense, acting as his private attorney. And this was an argument that he wanted to make.…I said I didn’t think it was a good idea to make the argument in this case, but I didn’t dispute that it was an argument that was there.
Actually, Alito recommended the Justice Department pursue a long-term strategy to get the courts to endorse absolute immunity:
There are strong reasons to believe that our chances of success will be greater in future cases…our chances of persuading the Court to accept an absolute immunity argument would probably be improved in a case involving a less controversial official and a less controversial era.
Altio was pusuing an agenda. He just won’t admit it.
Full transcript below. Read more
In an editorial defending President Bush’s use of warrantless wiretapping, the conservative Wall Street Journal argues that members of Congress should have blown the whistle on the program if they were concerned about the President overextending his executive power:
Key members of the relevant Congressional oversight committees were informed at least 12 times. “¦ In short, if there were any real abuses going on here, there were plenty of people in the loop and able to blow the whistle. [Wall Street Journal, 1/10/06]
The editorial ignores the fact that members of Congress were not allowed to discuss the program, either with their staff or other members, much less the public.
Senate Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) told Vice President Cheney that he was unable to discuss the program with his own legal counsel:
As you know, I am neither a technician nor 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. [Letter to the Vice President, 7/17/03]
Last month, Rockefeller pointed out that he also couldn’t tell other Intelligence Committee members:
The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program. The limited members who were told of the program were prohibited by the Administration from sharing any information about it with our colleagues, including other members of the Intelligence Committees. [Press Release, 12/19/05]
And the President did not even inform former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) that the FISA courts would be circumvented:
I was not notified that they were going to abandon the FISA process and utilize warrantless intercepts of conversations. [Miami Herald, 12/21/05]
There was no opportunity for anyone “in the loop,” including Congress, to blow the whistle. That was a big part of the problem. The administration was violating the law without any oversight.