After over a year of demands, four months of subpoenas
and an immeasurable amount of acrimony and mutual distrust, the White House has finally agreed to let Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) -- and possibly even the whole Senate Judiciary Committee -- review the legal basis for the warrantless surveillance program. Apparently politics can compel what subpoenas can't. Congressional Quarterly
The White House has offered leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee access to legal documents related to the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, senators said Thursday.
But Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said while the White House had offered the documents to both him and the panel's ranking Republican, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, he was pushing for the entire committee to receive access to the documents.
The Bush administration is asking Congress to grant retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications companies being sued for their alleged role in the NSA program.
A Judiciary Committee aide had said the panel was holding off on a markup of legislation rewriting the rules for electronic surveillance until it received access to those documents, which pertain to the legal foundation of the NSA program.
Two Senators on the judiciary committee who saw the documents via their seats on the intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), ultimately voted for retroactive telecom immunity. Could Specter and Leahy possibly be next? Stranger things have happened -- like, for instance, the disclosure of these documents to the judiciary committee leaders. The committee will hold a hearing on the surveillance legislation Wednesday.