Specter Flip-Flops (Again)

by TChris

Despite the testy letter that Sen. Arlen Specter wrote to Vice President Cheney, and despite this article's description of Specter as a "subpoena-wielding member of Congress who is ready to force a showdown over what he sees as the Bush administration's intrusion into legislative territory," Specter has reportedly "modified his stance" on the administration's warrantless spying on Americans by proposing "legislation that would give President Bush the option of seeking a warrant from a special court for an electronic surveillance program such as the one being conducted by the National Security Agency."

Complying with FISA would be an "option"? How often would this lawless administration choose that option? The administration doesn't feel bound by FISA now, given the president's belief that he has the inherent, king-like authority to decide which laws apply to the executive branch and which can be ignored.

Specter said "he just wanted to move the bill forward so it can be amended later to insert more safeguards." The current law -- FISA -- has plenty of safeguards. What's the point of introducing bad legislation to replace good legislation that the president feels free to disregard?

"The last thing we want to do is pass legislation that says, `Whatever you're doing is perfectly OK with us, but don't tell us what it is you're doing,' " said Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the judiciary committee's ranking Democrat.

What happened to Wednesday's Specter, the one who was miffed that Cheney sabotaged his planned hearings on the administration's interest in telephone records?

In the past, Democrats have been frustrated by Specter, who they say raises their hopes with tough talk against the White House but dashes them with disappointing action. In April, Senate minority leader Harry Reid labeled Specter a "moderate Republican . . . whenever you don't need him."

The bill also shields from accountability any member of the administration who illegally spied on Americans.

Another part of the Specter bill would grant blanket amnesty to anyone who authorized warrantless surveillance under presidential authority, a provision that seems to ensure that no one would be held criminally liable if the current program is found illegal under present law.

The bill would give exclusive jurisdiction over cases challenging the legality of the administration's warrantless spying program to the FISA court. That provision may be a deal-breaker for the administration, which doesn't believe any court has the power to pass judgment on the president's use (or abuse) of power.

Oddly, Specter's new bill seems at odds with a bill he co-sponsered with Sen. Feinstein. That bill "would specifically restate that a president could conduct electronic surveillance of people in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes only under the auspices of FISA."

Make up your mind, Senator Specter. Are you for the Constitution or against it? Do you believe in holding the administration accountable or not?

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    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 09:59:27 AM EST
    When is Arlen up for reelection? November isn't soon enough for this fraud.

    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 10:08:10 AM EST
    He just got reelected in 2004. Four more long years of being jerked around. The unofficial GOP lapdog.

    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#3)
    by rdandrea on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 11:55:00 AM EST
    Told ya so.

    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#4)
    by DonS on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 12:04:32 PM EST
    Lapdog, schmapdog. I'm beginning to think old Arlen has been taken over by aliens. But what could be more alien than a Bush lapdog? I heard Arlen speak at a graduation a couple of years ago. My impression was, yeah, he's a typical politician. You can almost feel the smarm. But he had this strange sincere act that may have morphed out of his ethnic roots. Weird act.

    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 03:05:11 PM EST
    Complying with FISA would be an "option"? How often would this lawless administration choose that option?
    About as often as an oil or coal company would comply with the voluntary environmental regs that Cheney wants.

    Re: Specter Flip-Flops (Again) (none / 0) (#6)
    by john horse on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 08:13:21 PM EST
    To borrow from Marx, "a Specter is haunting America." It is the Specter of a Senator who has abrogated his responsibility to maintain the constitutional check and balance of the legislative branch against the executive branch. It is the Specter of a Senator who only days before was claiming "There is no doubt that the NSA program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act..." but who lacks the courage to hold Bush to account for violating this law. It is the Specter of a Senator who places the interests of his political party above nation. In the book "Profiles In Courage" JFK provided several examples where legislators stood up for what was right even though it meant paying a political price. Don't expect to see a chapter on Arlen Specter.