If your as disgusted about this as I am, call Spectors office and let him know what you think of his antics.
War Powers: Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has begun a crusade against President Bush over the wiretapping of suspected terrorists. It's hard to see the benefit — beyond Specter's own ego.
Thanks to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, legislation regarding spying on terrorist communications in the U.S. will not be within the exclusive purview of the Senate's Select Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who's generally been supportive of the White House.
The Judiciary panel, chaired by Pennsylvania liberal Republican Specter, gets an even bigger piece of the action.
President Bush personally saved Specter's skin in 2004 by campaigning for him in Pennsylvania against a powerful underdog challenge from Pat Toomey, a congressman at the time and now the president of the Club for Growth. But Specter's way of returning the favor is to accuse the president of trampling on the Constitution by going all out against terrorism.
"I want to put the administration on notice," Specter roared earlier this month at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on hurricane relief funds. "I may be looking for an amendment to limit funding for the electronic surveillance program, which is the power of the purse, if we can't get an answer (on the program's details) in any other way." Specter is a member of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
"I hope we don't do something like cut off the ability of our NSA to intercept calls from al-Qaida," retorted Specter's fellow Republican Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri, one of many Republicans unhappy with Specter's agitation against Bush.
Specter wants to change the law to allow the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the NSA program's constitutionality on a regular basis.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently noted that our allies in the war on terror themselves recognize that wartime powers can coexist with democratic liberties. Speaking in London earlier this month, Gonzales said, "It is noteworthy that the practice of obtaining electronic surveillance without a judicial warrant has long been accepted in Europe as something that can be accomplished with proper respect for liberty and privacy interests.
"France, for example, allows public prosecutors to order wiretapping without judicial warrant if they believe doing so would be useful for determining whether a terrorist offense has occurred," Gonzales noted. "Here in the U.K., the Home Secretary has the same power, subject to careful checks."
Does Specter actually want to make it harder to track terrorists here than it is to do in France?
During Specter's tough re-election campaign against Toomey, many Republicans feared what it would mean for Specter to become Judiciary Committee chairman. They thought he would derail President Bush's Supreme Court nominees.
Little did they realize that in a pathetic show of grandstanding, it would be the war on terror Specter would seek to undermine.