Friday, March 10, 2006

First the Scandal, Then the Coverup
Miles Mogulescu: First the Scandal, Then the Coverup

For the past two months, Bush's unconstitutional and illegal wiretapping, and his justification that as Commander In Chief he has the right to violate the law, seemed to be brewing as a major controversy that could hurt the Republicans in the Fall elections. Now, with the collusion of the Republican Senate, and the weakness of the Democrat's response, further information about the President's illegal actions will likely be covered up. With no new information available to the media, along with the Bush administration threatening to prosecute for espionage any investigative reporters who might reveal new information from a confidential source, the scandal, like so many others of the Bush administration, will likely disappear from significant media coverage.

On Tuesday, in a party-line vote, The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to block a congressional investigation of Bush's warrentless wiretapping. Even such so-called "moderate Republicans" like Chuck Hegal and Olympia Dukakis, who had previously expressed doubts about the legality of the NSA program, went along with the quashing of an investigation. So much for "moderate Republicans."

Even more discouraging, Senate Democrats seem to be putting up minimal resistance. Immediately after the Intelligence Committee vote, ranking Committee Democrat Jay Rockefeller claimed angrily that the Intelligence Committee was "under the control of the White House." But the next day, as reported by the New York Times, Rockefeller issued a conciliatory statement, saying that the appointment of a seven-member subcommittee to oversee the N.S.A. eavesdropping was "a step in the right direction".


Rockefeller, and too many other Congressional Democrats, still seem to think that the way to win elections is to not be too hard on the Republicans. Even as poll ratings for Pres. Bush and the Republican Congress are in free fall, particularly among independents, they seem to think that attacking Republican misdeeds will alienate moderates.

Instead, the Democrats should be screaming from the rooftops about Bush usurping the Constitution and claiming unfettered power as Commander In Chief to break the law. They should express outrage at the coverup by Congressional Republicans. Instead we get a meek apology for hurting the feelings of Republican Committee members. The Democrats should be keeping Bush's claim of unfettered power in the spotlight, and make the Republican Congress's collusion in the President's unconstitutional power grab an election issue. They should be arguing that only a Congress with a majority of Democrats can put a break on President Bush's attempt to be anointed King George.

As even the often timid New York Times editorialized this morning, "There are moments when leaders simply have to take a stand. It seems to us that one of them is when Americans are in danger of the kind of unchecked surveillance that they thought had died with J. Edgar Hoover, Watergate and spying on Vietnam protesters and civil rights leaders." WHERE ARE THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERS?.