Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
In brief...
The White House was against briefing the full intelligence committees on the domestic spying program before they were for it ... Says NYT's Lichtblau & Shane:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 — Under pressure from some Congressional Republicans as well as Democrats, the White House abruptly changed its position on Wednesday and provided a closed-door briefing on the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program to the full House Intelligence Committee.

The step was a major modification of a White House stance that has limited briefings on the highly classified program to no more than a small group of Congressional leaders, even since the existence of the program was disclosed late last year.

The three-and-a-half-hour briefing, by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, principal deputy director of national intelligence, included a general description of how the secret eavesdropping program operates in addition to a previously planned discussion of its legal justification, committee members said. Mr. Gonzales and General Hayden are scheduled to give a similar briefing on Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Apparently the move comes after Cheney failed to be ogrish enough to scare away the Congress in his PBS interview last night...

Apparently, the administration is also getting worried that its legalistic justifications aren't going to be enough to call off the dogs in Congress (and apparently, neither is Karl Rove's blacklist...) Reports Knight Ridder:
The decision came as Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, began drafting legislation that would require a special federal court that ordinarily grants warrants for such eavesdropping to determine whether the program is constitutional.

Wednesday's developments illustrated the growing bipartisan pressure from Congress on the Bush administration to address the civil liberties questions raised by its efforts to spy on U.S. residents suspected of terrorist contacts. The White House decision appeared designed to forestall calls for a more aggressive congressional investigation. ...

...It was evident that several Republicans as well as most Democrats were apprehensive about the program when Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday about the president's rationale for conducting the program without judicial review, in possible violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Republican objections gained greater political weight when they were raised Wednesday by Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the chair of its Technical and Tactical Intelligence Subcommittee. Wilson told The New York Times that the eavesdropping program by the National Security Agency needed a full congressional review. In response, the White House agreed to be more open with the intelligence committees. ...
Scott McClellan is holding the White House briefing now, and the opening question was why the administration flip-flopped on the briefings. McClellan isn't answering, instead spewing some drivel about "continuing to listen to ideas..."

Take two: question reiterated. Why is the WH now briefing beyond the "gang of eight?" Scottie still ain't answering. "These are highly classified briefings about how this program works. We wanted to provide additional information to the members of the intelligence committees..." so they can appreciate the importance of the program... yeah...

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posted by JReid @ 2:36 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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