It took a week after his committee was allowed to review
documents related to the legality of the administration's warrantless surveillance program, but Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) publicly urged the White House to give the Senate and House judiciary committees the same access. "It's past time that the Administration provide all committees of jurisdiction with access to these documents so they too can make informed decisions about critical national security programs," he said in a press release this afternoon.
Rockefeller has come under attack from civil libertarians for drafting
a surveillance bill
granting retroactive legal immunity for telecom companies and yanking the FISA Court from its oversight role of surveillance of foreign-to-domestic communications.
The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday reiterated
its demand for the documents it subpoenaed three months ago. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) said "it is wrongheaded to ask Senators to consider immunity without their being informed about the legal justifications purportedly excusing the conduct being immunized." Indeed, Rockefeller's press release demonstrates their point. Its concluding sentences:
Finally, Rockefeller noted that the larger issue of whether the Administration acted illegally in authorizing its warrantless surveillance program is still an open question. The committee will continue its efforts to understand the legal underpinnings of the program.
So, in other words, Rockefeller just blessed a program that he can't yet certify is legal; and included in his blessing a blanket promise of immunity for companies that he can't say didn't break the law. "Wrongheaded" seems like a bit of an understatement.