Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Arlen Specter takes a stand against a grave threat to American democracy

Via the New York Times

Specter wants to meet with N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss why the leaguge destroyed all evidence of the Patriots’ videotaping incident in the season opener against the Jets. During his Friday news conference, Goodell said he would meet with Specter, but he played down the evidence of spying on the tapes.
And from ABC News

It could go to hearings," Specter said. "This is a matter to be considered by the [Senate Judiciary] Committee. I don't want to make any broad assertions or elevate it beyond what I have a factual basis for doing, We're going to follow the facts and if warranted, there could be hearings."

Specter told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that after hearing Goodell's depiction of why evidence provided by the Patriots was destroyed, he wanted more answers.

"The commissioner's explanation as to why he destroyed the tapes does not ring true," Specter said.
Oh my god! The NFL destroyed evidence of the Patriots spying on the Jets ... could their possibly be any more pressing issue for Congress to investigate? Certainly not the CIA destroying evidence of illegal interrogation tactics.

The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
Nor are the destroyed e-mails more important.

House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — 140,216 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

See, when the Patriots spy on another NFL football team the U.S. Congress will step in and take decisive action. When the President of the U.S and his administration are in the process of "hastening a constitutional crisis" Congress will give lipservice to opposing it and then roll-over and allow it to continue.

How dare he? How dare Arlen Specter say anything about the seriousness of the NFL destroying evidence that one team watched another team practice while our goverment destroyed evidence that it illegally tortured people. But you want to see outrage? Specter actually put these things on the same level.

"That requires an explanation,” Specter said. “The N.F.L. has a very preferred status in our country with their antitrust exemption. The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game. It’s analogous to the C.I.A. destruction of tapes. Or any time you have records destroyed.”
What is it about serving in Congress that turns people into this? Into people pathetically trying to find something for themselves to do to look important rather than doing what actually is important. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I don't want to hear about how the NFL destroying spy tapes is analogous to the current administration systematically dismantling American democracy while Congress plays the fiddle. I want to hear about how Congress is going to put a stop to a lawless presidency. But more importantly, I want to see it happen.

Blogger's Note - I just re-read this and noticed that this post might create the impression that Congress has not been investigating the destroyed e-mails and destroyed CIA tapes. It has and still is as far as I know, but the point is that this should be an urgent priority for Congress; comparing the NFL "scandal" to this trivializes what is being done to the Constitution. Even if Congress gets to the bottom of these issues, I have little confidence that they'll actually do anything about it. As Gleen Greenwald put it

Mukasey can go and casually tell [the Senate Judiciary Committee which Arlen Specter is on] to their faces that the President has the right to violate their laws and that Congress has no power to do anything about it. And nothing is going to happen. And everyone -- the Senators, Bush officials, the country -- knows that nothing is going to happen. There is nothing too extreme that Mukasey could say to those Senators that would prompt any consequences greater than some sighing and sorrowful expressions of disapproval. We now live in a country where the President -- and those acting at his behest (see Lewis Libby, AT&T, and Verizon)-- have the power to break the law and ignore Congress and every other aspect of government, and can do so with impunity.


...Congress, when they learn of Bush lawbreaking, ends up doing nothing other than voting after the fact to legalize it. They learn Bush has been illegally spying on Americans with no warrants and they enact The Protect America Act to legalize it. They learn Bush has been systematically torturing detainees and imprisoning people with no process and they enact the Military Commissions Act to legalize it.

They learn that telecoms have deliberately broken the law for years -- laws which the Congress passed specifically to make it illegal for telecoms to cooperate with warrantless government spying on Americans -- and they are about to provide full retroactive immunity for the lawbreakers. When they do pretend to investigate, they meekly allow the administration literally to ignore their Subpoeans. Congress does that because we live in a system of lawlessness -- we have decided that the President has the power to break the law without consequences -- and because legalizing the President's lawbreaking is the only way they can be relevant.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I am SO happy our tax dollars are going to such good use! I'm also SO happy our elected officials are investing steroid use in baseball. Yep, that's vitally important to American democracy (barf).