It’s not about party. It’s about the Constitution and the rule of law

There are some who are trying their darnedest to paint the warrant-free spying program as a partisan issue. Today David Broder nicely sums up why that dog just don’t hunt.

No member of the Senate is more conservative than Sam Brownback of Kansas — a loyal Republican, an ardent opponent of abortion and, not coincidentally, a presidential hopeful for 2008.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he has supported President Bush on every one of his court appointments. He is not one to find fault with the administration.

And that is why the misgivings he expressed Monday about the surveillance policies Bush has employed in the war on terrorism are so striking.

And Brownback wasn’t the only R who caught Broder’s attention.

And the authority Bush is using is, in the judgment of Republicans as well as Democrats, highly questionable. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a military lawyer before he came to Congress, said that when he voted to authorize the use of force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, “I never envisioned that I was giving to this president or any other president the ability to go around FISA carte blanche.”

As for the administration’s contention that Bush has “inherent power” as chief executive to order warrantless wiretaps, Graham said, “Its application, to me, seems to have no boundaries when it comes to executive decisions in a time of war. It deals the Congress out. It deals the courts out.”

With two other Republicans, Chairman Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio, and all the Democrats agreeing with Graham’s view, the president has been given a clear signal to get off his high horse and come to Congress for statutory authority and court supervision of the surveillance program.

Washington Post, Broder op-ed: Bucking Bush on spying

Meanwhile, the NY Times let rip on Gonzales’ art of no-speak in an editorial yesterday:

On the absurd pretext of safeguarding operational details, Mr. Gonzales would not say whether any purely domestic communications had been swept up in the program by accident and what, if anything, had been done to make sure that did not happen. He actually refused to assure the Senate and the public that the administration had not deliberately tapped Americans’ calls and e-mail within the United States, or searched their homes and offices without warrants.

Mr. Gonzales repeated Mr. Bush’s claim that the program of intercepting e-mail and telephone calls to and from the United States without the legally required warrants was set up in a way that protects Americans’ rights. But he would not say what those safeguards were, how wiretaps were approved or how the program was reviewed. He even refused to say whether it had led to a single arrest.

If an attorney general testifies before Congress and doesn’t say anything, does he still make a sound?

Andy in Harrisburg