To understand the nature of the debate over the National Security Agency's wiretapping program, one need look no further than [Senator Arlen] Specter himself.
After the program was first publicly disclosed last Dec. 16, Specter called the program an "inappropriate" usurpation of authority that "can't be condoned." He signed onto a bill written by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that would effectively ban the program as it is now operated and require a court order for all wiretapping of Americans.
Then, after a series of confidential meetings with the White House, Specter worked out a compromise to bring the program before a secret intelligence court to test its constitutionality. He was promptly criticized by Democrats for giving away too much to the White House.
With that idea stalled, Specter changed course again last week and submitted a proposal that would require court warrants for eavesdropping on communications coming out of the United States, but not into it, and would put the whole issue on a fast track to the Supreme Court.
The lack of a resolution has left many shaking their heads. Some officials said the unanswered questions had cast doubt on the public credibility of broader intelligence operations and had created occasional confusion among intelligence agents over what is and is not allowed in tracking terror suspects. Read on...
It's scary how badly they want to hold on to this program, no matter how illegal it may be. On AlterNet, Onnesha Roychoudhuri reports that the Justice Department quashed inquiries into the wiretapping program. I hope that the Democratic-led Congress will take on this program and shine some much needed sunlight and transparency into their actions.