Pat Roberts: FISA Flip-flopping
Kevin Drum is hoping Senator Roberts does the right thing:
Apparently Roberts now feels not only that his committee should be briefed, but that the program itself should be overseen by the FISA court. If Roberts follows up on this, then good for him.
On both scores, I have my doubts. CNN is still suggesting the Roberts will not conduct investigations:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – For now, the Senate Intelligence Committee won’t investigate the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program, its chairman said. “An investigation at this point basically would be detrimental to this highly classified program and our efforts to reach some accommodation with the administration,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. Roberts said he was arranging a deal with the White House to modify the 1978 law governing electronic surveillance and to provide members of Congress with more extensive briefings on the closely guarded National Security Agency program … Ranking committee Democrat Sen. Jay Rockefeller said the decision was influenced by the Bush administration. “It is … more than apparent to me that the White House has applied heavy pressure in recent days and recent weeks to prevent the committee from doing its job.” He said the committee is slipping into irrelevance because it’s not providing oversight of the program. Roberts said the White House isn’t pressuring him to prevent an investigation.
As far as whether Roberts will insist on oversight by the FISA court, the Washington Post reports:
WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, breaking ranks with the president on domestic eavesdropping, says he wants a special court to oversee the program. But less than a day later, a top aide to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sought to clarify his position. Roberts told The New York Times that he is concerned that the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could not issue warrants as quickly as the monitoring program requires … Roberts was not available on Saturday. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s majority staff director, Bill Duhnke, said the Times story did not reflect “the tenor and status” of the negotiations between Congress and the White House, as well as within Congress.Duhnke said Roberts is looking at changes within the federal law but not necessarily involving the approval of the court.
I’d like to think that Senator Roberts would do his job as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but so far he has shown too much loyalty to Karl Rove.