Illegal Spying Hearings
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, predicted that the committee would have to subpoena the administration to obtain internal documents that lay out the legal basis for the program. Justice Department officials have declined, citing in part the confidential nature of legal communications.
Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., was expected to press Gonzales on why, during Gonzales' confirmation hearings last year to be attorney general, he dismissed as "hypothetical" a situation in which the government conducted warrantless eavesdropping. The NSA program was long in place by then, and Gonzales was White House counsel.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported Sunday that the program involves computers sifting through hundreds of thousands of communications to select for human review. The program has resulted in thousands of conversations in which someone in the U.S. has been at least briefly monitored, the Post said.
The Post report said that nearly all of them were quickly dismissed as insignificant and that perhaps no more than 10 solid leads a year have been pursued with further domestic surveillance, usually with a court warrant.
But Gen. Michael Hayden, the No. 2 intelligence official in the government, said it was "not true" that "we somehow grab the content of communications and then use the content of the communications to determine which of the communications we really want to listen to."
"When NSA goes after the content of a communication under this authorization from the president, the NSA has already established its reasons for being interested in that specific communication," Hayden said on "Fox News Sunday."
But General, that means you have probable cause, so why not just spy and report it to the FISA court?
(Senator Edward M.) Kennedy said the eavesdropping program could actually weaken national security, raising the prospect that terror suspects could go free if courts rule evidence collected from such surveillance to be tainted.
"We're taking a risk with national security which I think is unwise," Kennedy said.
"We don't believe prosecutions are going to be jeopardized because of this program," Gonzales told Kennedy.
I think the important thing about Gonzo's defense of this program is what it indicates about the Bushevik attempt to take over the national government with George Bush as dictator. He already has the power under the Patriot Act to make you disappear. Now he's fishing for reasons.