Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, has pledged to hold congressional hearings on Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program. At today’s press briefing, Scott McClellan made it pretty clear that administration officials wouldn’t cooperate:
Q And my question is, does the White House take this into account, will it try to talk to them, will it participate in the hearings?
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, and the President has said we’ve briefed members of Congress on more than a dozen occasions.
Q But that’s not what they’re talking about.
MR. McCLELLAN: And in terms of discussions about this, the President talked about this at his end-of-the-year news conference. We shouldn’t be talking about intelligence activities, particularly in a time of war, in a public way. This is a highly classified authorization –
Q Not anymore. I mean, it’s public now.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it still is. It still is highly classified. The President has talked in a very limited way about the nature of this authorization and what it’s designed to do, and how it’s limited. And so we will continue to talk with members of Congress —
Q Will you cooperate with a congressional hearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: — the Attorney General has been talking to additional members of Congress about this authorization, so that they do understand why this tool is so vital in our efforts to prevail in the global war on terrorism.
Q But will you cooperate with a hearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I’m not going to get into talking about ruling things in or out from this podium. We’ll talk with members of Congress and make sure that they’re briefed and kept informed, as we have been.
This is whole problem. The administration doesn’t recognize that Congress has a role in overseeing the executive branch. They only want to inform Congress on their terms. That’s not oversight, that’s a lecture.