Betrayal in the Buffet Line

Vice President Dick Cheney knew at lunch on Tuesday that he had pulled the string on the Senate Judiciary Committee's plan to subpeona telephone company executives; knew that he had lobbied Republican Committee members behind the back of their Chairman, Arlen Specter (R-Pa.); knew that he had advised the phone execs not to answer relevant questions. But did he share this information with Specter so the Senator would not be taken by surprise just hours later when he found out he didn't have the votes to subpoena? Here's the Senator's answer, written in a public letter sent to Cheney :

"I was surprised, to say the least, that you sought to influence, really determine, the action of the Committee without calling me first, or at least calling me at some point. This was especially perplexing since we both attended the Republican Senate caucus lunch yesterday and I walked directly in front of you on at least two occasions enroute from the buffet to my table."

Specter should not have been so surprised at the deliberate snub. It has been the policy of the Administration, and certainly the personal inclination of the Vice President, to treat members of the other two branches as though they were junior partners in the legal war on terror. That Cheney would treat the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with such disrespect and scorn tells us all we need to know about how the White House intends to proceed on the issue of domestic surveillance-- lawful or otherwise. And Sen. Specter's lame response-- a letter but no subpoenas-- tells us all we need to know about the desire and ability of Congress right now to stand up for itself and make good on its promise to act as a check and balance on the executive branch.

Sen. Specter is not going to get the White House's attention or respect by writing whiny letters. He is going to get it by issuing subpoenas, and holding frank hearings, and pushing legislation that will bring the judiciary into the matter. Either that, or the Senator ought to dump his lunch plate in the Vice President's lap the next time they are close to the buffet.

By  |  June 8, 2006; 11:00 AM ET
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I've tried to post a comment here twice. It's disappeared both times. I left a copy at in the comments for the most recent article there.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 02:28 PM

[Let's see what word(s) this comment software is blocking, shall we? Here's the first paragraph of my comment.]

Senator Specter has watched this situation unfold for how long now? He has done almost nothing, except call a meaningless public hearing or two. Sadly, compared to Sen. Pat Roberts, the head of the intelligence committee, he's been a tower of strength.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 02:37 PM

[OK, the second paragraph is being blocked. Here's the first half of that paragraph]

The Bush Administration, by my count, has broken four laws that were intended specifically to regulate the behavior of the executive branch. The War Crimes Act of 1996 was violated by the rendition program, Gitmo, and the black sites. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was broken by the NSA surveillance programs, and the President bragged that he'd done it and would do it again.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 02:42 PM

[OK. This was blocked in the way it was originally written. Here's a slight rewrite of the next sentence in paragraph 2, to get around what I think was a spam filter.]

The act that made it illegal to deliberately reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent was broken when Valerie Plame's CIA NOC status was revealed.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 02:58 PM

[Interesting. This appears to be the sentence that's the problem.]

The President's own Executive Order (the number of which appears to be a problem for the Washington Post), which makes it illegal to classify something that's illegal, was broken at least twice.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 03:03 PM

That EO number is 1 3 2 9 2, without the spaces. It can be read here:

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 03:06 PM

[Here's the rest of my comment. Sorry about the mess. Maybe Mr. Brady can fix this.]

The President has used signing statements to change the meaning of laws as many as 750 times. He has, without any apparent consultation with Congress, moved funds from one program to another. Yet the Congress has done NOTHING. We can't even persuade the "opposition" party to vote for censuring the President.

The Congress's role in government has been reduced to shoveling money into the executive branch. I hope they're happy with their new responsibilities, because they have certainly earned them.

Posted by: Cujo359 | June 8, 2006 03:09 PM

Sen. Specter should bring along Maalox when he meets with or confronts the Bush/Cheney administration.

Posted by: Shag from Brookline | June 8, 2006 03:14 PM


Are you copying and pasting an article? If it coming via Word, the HTML may still be included. Any HTML is blocked for obvious reasons. Copy and paste the article in Notepad (under text, not RTF) to remove the formatting. Takes one hidden format code to block the content.


Posted by: SandyK | June 10, 2006 09:46 AM

every one knows they are crooked and evil can we talk about something cheerful

Posted by: jack | June 10, 2006 06:14 PM

excellent article, dog!

Posted by: johnson,frederick edward | August 14, 2006 06:52 AM


Posted by: JOHNSON,FRED EDWARD | August 14, 2006 06:55 AM

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