The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed 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.Oy. Truly, deeply, madly dismal. Glenn Greenwald, who’s got an excellent post on this, says, “The idea that the President's allies in Congress would enact legislation which expressly shields government officials, including the President, from criminal liability for past lawbreaking is so reprehensible that it is difficult to describe.” He also raises a good point about its legality. As it is essentially a pardon, a power reserved exclusively for the President by the Constitution, “can Congress act as a court and simply exonerate citizens from criminal conduct?”
…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.
If there was ever a time for the Dems to put their collective foot down and raise hell, this is it. It’s partisanship in the extreme, so vastly outside the realm of propriety in its blatant acknowledgement that this president is above the law, that it is sincerely un-American.
And even considering Specter’s usual willingness to bend over and grin for the administration after promising the opposite, this proposal is inexplicable, coming as it does directly after his very public complaint that Cheney “had cut him out of discussions with all the other Republicans on his own committee about oversight of the administration's eavesdropping programs.” It’s as if, within the last day, he has simply thrown up his hands and given up all remnant of even the mere appearance of principle, offering a shrug and a resigned sigh as he resolves himself, since he can’t beat them, to join them.