Monday, March 05, 2007

* Glenn:
"Today the (NY)Times has an Editorial -- entitled "The Must-Do List" -- which identifies numerous pending Bush scandals regarding lawbreaking and abuses of presidential power, and for each one, the Editorial provides a proposed Congressional solution in the form of legislation. It is worth emphasizing, as always, that this list entails only the abuses that we have learned about (not from Congressional oversight, but from the disclosures of whistleblowers to journalists). It is beyond doubt -- as Ron Suskind recently pointed out in an interview with Spiegel-- that there are a whole array of similar, if not worse, abuses which the unprecedentedly secretive Bush administration has still managed to conceal
Far more than legislative solutions right now (which have no chance of succeeding), what we urgently need are compelled, subpoena-driven, aggressive hearings designed for maximum revelation and drama. Hearings are able, in a dramatic and television-news-friendly environment, to shed light on how extreme and radical this administration really has been in all of these areas. More than trying to repeal the worst legislative abuses of the last Congress, hearings -- real and dramatic and probing -- were the real promise of electing Democrats to take over the Congress. It is time -- and it is beginning to be past the time -- for that to start in earnest.

You can't convince Americans of the need to stop abuses until you demonstrate to them in a dramatic and undeniable way that those absues are being perpetrated and that they are harmful and dangerous. Just as one example, FISA itself was enacted only after the Church Committee conducted a probing and aggressive investigation and exposed the decades of eavesdropping abuses on the part of the Executive branch, whereby all the heinous transgressions from J. Edgar Hoover's blackmail-motivated eavesdropping on Martin Luther King to the array of Nixonian surveillance excesses came to light in all of their unvarnished and ugly reality. Americans were not moved by abstract notions of privacy or checks and balances but by the real life anecdotes of abuses and the evidence demonstrating how widespread they were.
And televised, highly publicized confrontations over the administration's hubris and arrogance and utter contempt for our legal institutions and political traditions is not something to be avoided. It is something we desperately need as a country. Issue subpoenas for all of this information, make them defy the subpoenas, and then demand that courts compel compliance. Create media dramas in which the administration fights to maintain full-scale secrecy around all of its legally dubious and extreme behavior. Americans hate hubris of that sort and do not trust this administration. Those are fights they cannot win.

Confrontations of this type are absolute pre-requisites if one wants to do anything about any of the truly urgent issues raised by the Times Editorial this morning. These issues cannot be amicably resolved or legislated away. The real power of the Congress is to compel a public airing of what this Government has been doing for the last six years. Everything else will follow from that. But it still remains to be seen -- it is highly questionable -- whether the Democrats who have been given control of the Congress by the American people have the stomach for that fight."
Hmmm - I'll have more on this on Monday- and later in the week ;-)

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