's Dahlia Lithwick on the Democrats' failure to remove Gonzales
A Democrat-controlled Congress that truly wanted Gonzales gone has options beyond the mere rending of garments and pulling of hair. But thus far, Congress has declined to force the issue....
There is, however, a real cost to the Democrats' strategy of pounding away at the attorney general purely for sport....
This past Sunday, a heap of Democrats voted to rush through changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law that governs electronic surveillance of anyone in this country. The new law expands the authority of the attorney general to approve the monitoring of phone calls and e-mails to suspected overseas terrorists from unknowing American citizens. Make no mistake about it. The vote to update FISA rewarded the AG for years of missteps and misstatements by giving him expanded authority to enforce the president's alarming constitutional vision. Sans oversight. Sans judicial approval.
There is virtually no way to reconcile Sen. Mark Pryor's, D-Ark., claim that Gonzales has "lied to the Senate" and needs to go with his vote to expand the reach of our warrantless eavesdropping program. And how can one possibly square Sen. Dianne Feinstein's, D-Calif., claim that the AG "just doesn't tell the truth" with her vote to give him yet more unchecked authority? You either trust this AG with the power to listen in on your phone calls or you do not, and the mumbled justifications for these "yes" votes ( â¦ but Gonzales shares his authority with National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell; â¦ but the bill sunsets in six months) do nothing to lessen the impression that some Democrats mistrust Gonzales when it's convenient, but not when it's truly important.