Speaking of lobbyists, the White House has been doing a little lobbying of its own, and seems to have successfully cajoled Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee into voting against an official inquiry into the domestic spying program.

Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.

The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a Democratic-sponsored motion to start an inquiry into the recently revealed program in which the National Security Agency eavesdrops on an undisclosed number of phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents without obtaining warrants from a secret court. Two committee Democrats said the panel -- made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats -- was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it.
“Top administration officials,” including Dark Lord Cheney, have been making private appeals to GOP members of the committee. Yesterday, Cheney also held a GOP-only meeting on intelligence matters in the Capitol. Coincidentally, I’m sure, Maine GOP Senator Olympia Snowe, who, back in December, signed a bipartisan letter registering grave concerns about the program and calling for a joint investigation, has suddenly changed her tune, and said, ahem, yesterday:

"I'm not sure it's going to be essential or necessary" to conduct an inquiry "if we can address the legislative standpoint" that would provide oversight of the surveillance program. "We're learning a lot and we're going to learn more," she said.

She cited last week's briefings before the full House and Senate intelligence committees by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and former NSA director Michael V. Hayden.

"The administration has obviously gotten the message that they need to be more forthcoming," Snowe said.
Oh yeah right. This administration is never going to get that message, and they’re never going to be more forthcoming, and, in fact, if you let them off yet again with slap on the wrist (if that), they’re only going to be more secretive and more abusive and hostile toward the public, the media, and their GOP minions. Unbelievable.

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair and West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller has drafted a motion “calling for a wide-ranging inquiry into the surveillance program,” on which the committee is meant to vote tomorrow. At this point, it looks like Rockefeller’s motion will be tanked in favor of one being proposed by Committee Member and Ohio GOP Senator Mike DeWine, which not only does not call for inquiry, but seeks to specifically authorize the domestic spying program by excluding it from FISA. In other words, retroactively legalizing the administration’s actions.

And even the normally fairly credible Nebraska GOP Senator Chuck Hagel, who also signed the December letter, is set to vote against Rockefeller’s motion.

"If some kind of inquiry would be beneficial to getting a resolution to this issue, then sure, we should look at it. But if the inquiry is just some kind of a punitive inquiry that really is not focused on finding a way out of this, then I'm not so sure that I would support that."
Complete and utter bullshit. No one in the GOP is willing to hold this administration accountable for anything.

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