Now that the President has tapped the chief defender of his warrantless wiretapping program to become CIA Director, what are we going to do about the nomination of Michael Hayden to head this wayward agency?
Peter Hoekstra, Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee describes this nominee as "the wrong person, in the wrong place, at the wrong time." Of course he's right.
He's nearly prophetic on a day when we are reminded of the Administration's determination to keep the extent of their illegal domestic spying program secret. Think about the fact that we have to read in the newspapers that the Department of Justice abruptly ended an investigation into the conduct of department lawyers who approved the program - not because the approving lawyers were cleared of wrongdoing but because investigators were denied the information to conduct the investigation. Does the Attorney General care about the oath he took? It didn't demand he protect a President's reputation, it demanded he protect the Constitution.
What else? Oh, yes, today we learn the NSA isn't just listening to international calls but is collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans who aren't suspected of wrong-doing. How many times will government secrecy shield decision-makers from any kind of accountability?
Enough is enough. Yes, Congress needs to end the days of roll-over and rubber stamp before General Hayden becomes Director Hayden and proves Chairman Hoekstra right by doing the job wrong.
But something far more fundamental is out of whack in Washington. Every day we learn something new about this Administration's attitude - and too many people greet each story with a yawn as we learn that President Bush has announced he can disobey more than 750 laws enacted on his watch. Since when do we accept that any President has the power to set aside statutes passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution?
We're dealing with a group of people who believe our traditional values are a luxury we can no longer afford. That's the Bush-Cheney Doctrine - under which we can't foreswear the fool's gold of information secured by torturing prisoners, under which we need to create a shadow justice system with no rules and no transparency, under which unwarranted secrecy and illegal spying are now absolute imperatives of our national security and those who question the abuse of power question America itself.
These guys believe in their guts that executive powers trump the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and smearing administration critics is not only permissible, but necessary-and revealing the identity of a CIA agent is an acceptable means to hide the truth.
I know one thing - we can't defeat the Bush Cheney Doctrine if we're not crystal clear that it's wrong and we will not tolerate it any longer.
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