Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Roberts forgets who really matters

Memory PillsSenate Republicans block investigation into eavesdropping:

Roberts… said he had to persuade the White House to accept his proposal for a sub-panel of his committee to receive detailed briefings about operations of the secret program. Until now, the White House has occasionally briefed only eight members of Congress - the four Republican and Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate and the chairmen and vice chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

"My message to the White House was that the status quo was not satisfactory," Roberts said. "They were pretty intransigent. I kept saying, `You're not facing reality.'"

Roberts said he argued that if the White House didn't yield on Congress' assertion of greater oversight authority, Democrats would succeed in getting a broader investigation that could result in subpoenas, claims of executive privilege and, potentially, a court clash between Congress and the White House.
This is what Kansans call "fertilizer." The White House got exactly what it wanted, and Roberts want us to believe he was the one standing up to the White House, when he's given them everything they've asked for on every issue that's come before him. I see a lot of talk about what the White House asked for, and not a lot of discussion of what the people want. And if he remembers how the system works, the people are the ones that matter in the end.

Pushing Roberts into acting like he isn't the President's puppet is a success. I was amazed at the number of letters we got published through the Roots Project, and the level of public debate we kicked off. No, we didn't win the fight, but we put Senator Roberts on the defensive.

The hearings could have just vanished, the way the investigation into political abuses of intelligence has. But we got a new subcommittee and a germ of a new law to institute more oversight. That moved the debate. Now we have to ask a new set of questions, and define the agenda that the public wants, not what the White House will tolerate: What kind of oversight? What questions do people want the Senate to answer? What power does Congress need to have?

We didn't win today, but we didn't lose, either.