During this morning’s hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold noted that the same lawyers who created the legal justifications for Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program coached Alito about how to answer questions during the confirmation hearings:
I’m going to say that I am still somewhat troubled by the idea that you were prepared for this hearing by some lawyers who were very much involved in promoting the purported legal justification for the NSA wiretapping program….
I note, for example, that one of the people who participated in these sessions was Benjamin Powell. He recently advised President Bush on intelligence matters and was just given a recess appointment as general counsel to the national intelligence director.
I also see the name of White House Counsel Harriet Miers on the list. And she, obviously, is involved in the president’s position on this matter.
This a serious ethical issue.
Miers personally approved Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program as White House Counsel. The evidence suggests that Powell is also a strong proponent of the program. In July, before Bush’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program was revealed by the New York Times, Powell testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to indicate that he wanted to expand the rules that limited intelligence agencies’ authorities to collect and share intelligence about U.S. citizens.
Bush’s warrantless surveillance program may soon come before the Supreme Court. Now we have key lawyers who created legal justifications for the program, such as Powell and White House counsel Harriet Miers, suggesting to Alito how he should respond to senators who ask questions about it. It is hard to imagine that these recommendations were not highly suggestive of how he should adjudicate the issue.
ThinkProgress has obtained a full list of everyone who attended Alito’s “murder boards.” You can check it out here.