This week it was revealed that Vice President Dick Cheney secretly mobilized Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee to resist committee chairman Arlen Specter’s plans to subpoena phone company executives about interactions they may have had with the National Security Agency as it constructed a massive, secret domestic phone call database. In the face of his colleagues’ opposition, Specter has withdrawn his request for a subpoena.
“Republican congressional leaders have long been derelict in their duty to ensure that executive branch agencies follow the law and respect Americans’ civil liberties,” said PFAW President Ralph G. Neas. “Now we learn that when Sen. Specter tried to take a step toward fulfilling his duty to the Constitution and the American people, he was undercut by his colleagues, including Sen. Orrin Hatch. This latest attack on oversight and accountability adds insult to injury. It seems as if the White House would prefer for the Senate to disappear so the president and his aides could violate Americans’ civil liberties whenever they wanted. Actually, under its current Republican leadership, the Senate is already pretty much nonexistent when it comes to holding the Bush administration accountable. This is a disgrace. The government has implemented a spying program of questionable legality that may involve hundreds of millions of Americans. The least the Senate could do is look into it.”