Thursday, June 28, 2007

Senate Judiciary Committee Gets Serious About CATCH ALL

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday issued subpoenas to the White House, Vice President Dick Cheney's office and the Justice Department after what the panel's chairman called "stonewalling of the worst kind" of efforts to investigate the National Security Agency's policy of wiretapping without warrants. ...

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said the subpoenas seek documents that could shed light on the administration's legal justification for the wiretapping and on disputes within the government over its legality.

In addition, the panel is seeking materials on related issues, including the relationship between the Bush administration and several unidentified telecommunications companies that aided the N.S.A. eavesdropping program.

Mr. Leahy said Wednesday at a news conference that the committee had issued the subpoenas because the administration had followed a "consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection" in dealing with Congressional efforts to scrutinize the program.

"It's unacceptable," Mr. Leahy said. "It is stonewalling of the worst kind."

The White House, the vice president's office and the Justice Department declined Wednesday to say how they would respond to the subpoenas.

"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," said Tony Fratto, White House deputy press secretary.

"It's unfortunate that Congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation," Mr. Fratto added.

The route of acquiescence in the face of blatant lawbreaking -- the operative practice when the GOP controlled Congress -- is definitely the administration's preference.

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