The Happy Leftie

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Friday, March 31, 2006

Senator Leahy: Censure May Be Appropriate

I know, I know the Senate Democrats are excruciatingly slow on the uptake, even as the American electorate, let alone the world, ache for Bush to be brought to account for SOMETHING, ANYTHING, EVERYTHING! At least Leahy attended the hearing so Feingold wasn't the only Dem present. Baby steps, people. -hl


Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he is "inclined to believe'' it's appropriate to censure President George W. Bush over his eavesdropping authorization.

Leahy made his comments at a hearing today in Washington to consider a resolution by Senator Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, chastising the president for ordering government monitoring without warrants of calls and e-mails between people in the U.S. and terrorism suspects overseas.

Leahy, who is from Vermont, urged Congress to subpoena legal opinions from the Bush administration about the program to determine whether the president got "bad advice'' or "knowingly chose to flout the law.''

The three-hour hearing was the fourth by the committee this month to look into the eavesdropping program and the first to examine Feingold's proposal. Feingold, who is considering running for president in 2008, said he won't abandon his efforts and that Leahy's support shows his resolution is being taken seriously.

"This matter can be alive for a very long time,'' said Feingold, who argues Bush broke the law by authorizing the wiretaps without a warrant. "Until the president and the White House alters course on their bogus justifications for this program, this sort of approach is appropriate.''

Feingold and Leahy were the only Democrats of the eight on the committee to attend the hearing. Five of the 10 Republicans on the panel attended.

Supporting Feingold's effort was John Dean, a central figure in the Watergate scandal that ended Richard Nixon's presidency.

Dean, who was White House counsel for almost three years, was the star witness in the congressional hearings that led to Nixon's 1974 resignation. He later served prison time for his role in Watergate and is now a critic of the Bush administration.

"I think it's a question of institutional pride of this body,'' Dean said at the hearing. ``There has been a growing tendency to let the president do what he wants.''

Dean, citing his personal experience in "how presidents can get themselves on the wrong side of the law,'' said Bush was "pushing the envelope'' and ``defying Congress.'

A vote on the resolution hasn't been scheduled.