The More Things Change...

I'm back, sort of, and I don't think I missed much while I was gone.

Another shoddy anti-terror measure was passed by the House of Representatives and then signed into law by President Bush, who has again succeeded in enhancing executive-branch power at the expense of vital oversight from and by the other two branches of government.

Another set of White House officials blew off a congressional investigation into the U.S. Attorney scandal. If the latest flip-off from Karl Rove and Co. doesn't cause Congress to take the dispute to court, I don't know what will. It's as predictable as it is disheartening that the legislators can rush to pass a questionable anti-terror measure (for fear of being branded soft on terrorism) but can't rush to bring to a head their executive privilege fight.

Another lame and ultimately failed attempt by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to explain his way out of trouble. He's apparently going to insist that black is white and white is black until they carry him kicking and screaming out of office. The most sensible reaction to the latest Gonzo waste? Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who said: "It is a deeply regrettable that it takes so much work and effort for this attorney general to try to justify answers that appear to remain far short of the full truth the American people should expect from the nation's top law enforcement officer."

Another surprising twist in the Jose Padilla terror conspiracy trial down in Miami. As recounted by the Miami Herald's Jay Weaver, a defense witness told jurors late last week that he "used his New Jersey warehouse to store tens of thousands of pounds of used clothes, canned foods and medicine donated by American Worldwide Relief, an organization run by a defendant in the Padilla trial." If jurors believe the guy, then maybe the trial won't be the slam-dunk prosecution win so many people have predicted it will be.

Same as it ever was...

By Andrew Cohen |  August 6, 2007; 8:08 AM ET agag
Previous: Bench Goes Bye-Bye for a Few Days | Next: Congress and Spying: Fool You Twice, Shame on You


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What about the reprehensible PAUL MCNULTY? The fact that he got strong-armer thug MICHAEL ELSTON to try and get Brownlee not to go forward on an indictment against a pharmaceutical company, huh?

Just more dirty business from the former Deputy AG. And what happens? Why, the liar and concealer of information McNulty lands as a PARTNER AT BAKER AND MACKENZIE?

I tell you what, Baker and MacKenzie must truly have rocks in their heads, if they think he's going to enhance their firm-and where did he graduate from? Some Grove City Community College?

McNulty is going to be lucky, in the weeks and months to come, not to face a bar investigation, (or more) if he's not already the subject of one-as he should be!

Posted by: zanzara | August 6, 2007 05:20 PM

come on chiro, just tell what McNulty did to you, the anticipation is too much.

btw-- great post by Jack Balkin on this stuff

Posted by: wrb | August 6, 2007 05:43 PM

McNulty has done a LOT of things to A LOT of people at DOJ-and EVERYONE is very glad to see him go!

Posted by: | August 6, 2007 05:56 PM

Welcome back, Andrew! Please write more about how utterly unbelievable it is that ANYONE would vote for Bush to continue to break the law and eavesdrop on whomever he pleases - and for Alberto Gonzales to be the final arbiter. This has left me disgusted, dispirited, dismayed, disgruntled, disoriented . . .

Posted by: Gardenia | August 6, 2007 09:05 PM

"disgusted, dispirited, dismayed, disgruntled, disoriented"--a fair description of the country as a whole. But let's not forget the dissatisfied, the disillusioned and the soon-to-be- destitute.

Posted by: D | August 6, 2007 11:24 PM

Can we PLEASE stop talking about the "saving grace" of this Act being the six month sunset provision? The last subsection clearly states that any intelligence programs authorized under the Act will, notwithstanding the sunset, "remain in effect until their expirations".

In other words, in order to undo this, congress can't just block reauthorization in six months; rather, they will need to muster a veto-proof majority to _repeal_ it. And *that* will never happen.

This means that the WH has 6 months to authorize everything they could conceivably want, give all the programs long durations and then, in the very unlikely event that Dems actually grow a spine in the next six months and block reauthorization, BushCo can continue on, doing what they do, now under color of law, and completely without any meaningful supervision, oversight, or control by any democratic mechanism.

Can someone please publicize this fact? Every story I read talks about how the Dems got at least this *one* concession (i.e., the sunset provision) into the Act. They got nothing, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: hiphoplawyer | August 7, 2007 12:43 AM

DAYUM! Are you sure you interpreted that right, HipHop? I suspected there was a pack of rats buried in this somehow, not based on any specific knowledge, but just from the track record of these lying bastards with the "PATRIOT" (hah!) Act and so many other things where they've dealt the devil into the details. That's why I read this blog, to see what smarter insiders' minds than mine have unearthed. Good onya!

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | August 7, 2007 02:18 AM

I am sure I interpreted that particular subsection correctly. What I don't know is whether there is some other provision (either in the main FISA statute or the recent amendments) that limits the maximum duration of any particular authorization.

There may be such a limitation, but it is unlikely to be less than a year, so therefore 6 months from now, right before the sunset, BushCo can (re)authorize everything they want for at least a year, and... voila!: everything authorized until the end of Bush's term of office and nothing the congress can do to stop it without a veto-proof majority.

Posted by: hiphiplawyer | August 7, 2007 09:30 AM

And by the way Mr. Cohen...

when are you going to update your AGAG series with Parts V-XV (and beyond)? He has really outdone himself in the last few months. Its almost like he read your series and said "oh, you think THAT's bad? Just wait til you get a load of THIS!"

Posted by: hiphoplawyer | August 7, 2007 09:41 AM

That wasn't very long, what 4 or 5 day vacation?

Posted by: Brad | August 7, 2007 12:09 PM

By getting this bill passed Bush has got Congress to also say warrantless wire tapping is legal at least for now. This is a get out of jail free card, litorially, for all of the illegal wiretapping he has alread done over the last 5 or six years.

Posted by: Pat Chandler | August 8, 2007 10:51 AM

It's difficult to keep track of all these lousy wars: the war on poverty, the war on drrrugs, the war on terror, the war on aides, the war on dandriff... ad nauseum.

Perhaps we need a war on stupidity? How stupid of us to wage all these wars... and the enemy is never clearly defined.

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