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Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying

On July 17, 2003, following a briefing by Cheney, Sen. Jay Rockefeller responded with a handwritten letter (pdf). How prescient. Markos at Daily Kos has the text version. Here's a portion of it:

Clearly the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues. As you know, I am neither a technician or an attorney. Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities.

As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance. Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or techical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.

I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication.

Patriot Daily has a great round-up of liberal blogger reaction to the unauthorized spying.

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  • Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#1)
    by ras on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 08:38:24 PM EST
    Well, I sure know a CYA memo when I see one. So, Rockefeller made no effort to learn more, just said it was all too complicated for him, wrote a disclaimer (carefully tucked away, of course) and let the program proceed. Nuddge, nudge, wink wink.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#2)
    by ras on Mon Dec 19, 2005 at 11:57:41 PM EST
    TL, Name calling and personal insults to other commenters are not allowed. Soccerdad your second cousin, then? I always wondered if he was the one begging for STC on so many others, cuz based on your comments policy, application is, shall we say, selective? Seriously, I'll take your comments policy seriously when you do. Till then, it's just an excuse.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:03:19 AM EST
    I can't read all the comments on the blog. Any reader is free to point out an offending comment to me. If it violates the terms, the commenter will be warned that three such offenses ban him from commenting permanently. Also read up on chatterers, who get limited to four comments a day. Ras, you know that you are one of those, right?

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#4)
    by ras on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:49:34 AM EST
    TL, Oh, you gotta get a life, luv, if you're answering me at this time of night! And um, yeah. I know I'm on the STC quota; how could I forget? But my point was that your comments policy is, shall we say, selectively enforced? The same way Bush would enforce it, for example, if he ran the site. Am I kidding about you or about Bush? Can't tell, can you? And there's the prob. The base name-calling and insults from the Left are tolerated, nay, encouraged. You pose at being even-handed and concerned only w/the truth, but the evidence says otherwise. As proof, I offer the archives.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#5)
    by john horse on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:53:55 AM EST
    ras It was President Bush who let the program proceed, not Senator Rockefeller. You seem to be arguing that if Bush is caught redhanded breaking the law it is the Democrats who should be blamed for not doing enough to stop him.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:51:30 AM EST
    It was exactly a CYA memo, so rethuglicans couldn't say 'well, why didn't you say something at the time!?" What else was he to do when threatened with jail if he said anything? BTW, JH, we should start calling it the Animal White House, as in "you f@#$!! up, you trusted us!"

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 08:34:56 AM EST
    Ras, What planet do you live on that you believe this adminstration would've given ANYONE more information about ANYTHING? You're basing that on nothing more than being flip. Certainly not on the reality of the way this adminstration deals with the truth. Wake up.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#8)
    by john horse on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 08:53:26 AM EST
    ras, I sometimes get confused by those who continue to make excuses for Bush. According to a previous post, you claimed "the Dems knew all about it." Now you are claiming, based on Rockefeller's letter, that Senator Rockefeller (one of the Dems) should have made an effort to learn more. It seems to me if you need to learn more, you therefore don't know "all" about it. It seems that you don't let a little inconsistency get in the way of being an apologist for Bush.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 10:28:29 AM EST
    Easy for ras to side with the constitutional criminals. His civil rights are safe and sound up north. As for Rockefeller and others, they are proof to me that the Dems will be no help to freedom now or in the future. Where was your courage to defend the constitution from this domestic threat 2 years ago, Mr. Rockefeller? I'm sorry, you should have called a press conference the day you learned of this lawbreaking and informed the American people that the Bill of Rights was under attack. That may have been damaging politically, but the right thing often is. Not to mention ut was your duty. Your little letter doesn't impress me, in fact it angers me that you knew about this domestic spying and did nothing of substance. 2006, 2008....vote against every incumbent. It's the only thing these bastards value..their power. They obviously don't value the constitution.

    Conservative smear and dishonest spin is twice as offensive as any curse word I've ever heard. The only reason Conservatives are pointing fingers at the Senate is in hope of intimidating Congress into giving Bush's outlaw administration a free pass to run roughshod over the Constitution and our civil liberties. I don't believe it will work, but I do believe that the new Conservative court would happily sell out the rest of America to empower a Conservative President if it came down to nuts and bolts time. At which point, the average American would have yet another opportunity to glimpse the extent of the abuses of power their own stupidity has brought into reality.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 08:26:10 PM EST
    Any senator worth a damn who learned that the executive branch authorized spying on American citizens without court oversight of any kind would report the criminal behavior to the AG immediately. I think you're right on that point Jim, I don't doubt Rockefeller was in on it. We need a prosecutor on this case ASAP. It's a bi-partisan constitutional crime of the first order. Rockefeller doesn't get a pass because he stands up for the constitution after he spits on it.

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 06:51:03 AM EST
    Charlie - Your insults define you, please continue. One of the most important duties of a Senator is "oversight." Rockefeller didn't do that. He wrote a CYA letter and put it in a file. He didn't demand more information. He didn't copy the other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He didn't threaten to resign and go public. Or, for that matter, just go public. No, he just wrote a CYA letter and put if in file. And of course the claim is now that Rockefeller couldn't do so because of security concerns. Perhaps that is true, because he believed, as many others did that Saddam was a threat. In fact, he went to the Middle East and told all of them what the President was going to do. Link
    ROCKEFELLER: No. I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.
    Think about this, charlie. Here you have a man, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling our enemies what the President is going to do, yet he couldn't tell his countrymen about a program he found to be so terrible, and one he didn't understand, and one he didn't demand more information about... charlie, to use a "ratherism," that dog won't hunt. To repeat. Even in a business situation actions like that would not be tolerated. A member of a group that represents that group must not take such actions. They must satisfy themselves that what is being done is correct, or they must demand more information, or they must reveal their feelings to their superiors, who in this case were the US citizens

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#14)
    by glanton on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 04:12:35 PM EST
    I wonder if there are any lines the GOP could cross, vis a vis civil liberties, that the apologists here wouldn't find acceptable, as ling as "national security" was cited. Jim, I suspect that as long as you personally are not bothered by the government, the answer is an unqualified "lines? there are no stinkin' lines"

    Re: Rockefeller Wary in 2003 About Secret Spying (none / 0) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 06:50:09 PM EST
    Hodo - And you haven't posted a link that shows any proof of your claims. And yet you brag. Hodo, let me show you how it is done. I contend that Rockefeller's actions in this matter is highly suspect. This is from the original NYW article on 12/16.
    According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters.
    Now the good Senator released his CYA letter several days after the NYT‘s 12/16 article. And since then he has claimed that the situation was so secret that he couldn’t discuss it with his staff or other Senators. Yet he had obviously spoken with the authors of the article, or others who fed the highly classified information to the NYT. I repeat:
    ...reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV...
    Obviously he has, as he did with those ME leaders, leaked information. Can you tell us why a special prosecutor is not needed?