Monday, February 06, 2006


Seems like everybody's writing about domestic spying this morning because there are hearings scheduled today on wheter the Bush Adminstration violated the 1978 law specifically calling for a secretive court to consider and approve such monitoring. Specter has alread said he believes the Bush administraition violated the law. AP leads today with Gonzales to Answer Eavesdropping Questions and the NY Times reminds us that as this drama unfolds it looks very familar to a drama that unfolded three decades ago in the capital.
In 1975, a Senate committee led by Senator Frank Church of Idaho revealed that the N.S.A. had intercepted the phone calls and telegrams of Americans. Then, as now, intelligence officials insisted that only international communications of people linked to dangerous activities were the targets, and that the spying was authorized under the president's constitutional powers. Then, as now, some Republicans complained that the government's most sensitive secrets were being splashed on the front pages of newspapers, while Democrats emphasized the danger to civil liberties.

Both in 1975 and today, officials defending the N.S.A. operation said it had prevented terrorist attacks. And Dick Cheney, who as vice president has overseen secret briefings for selected members of Congress on the N.S.A. program, was in the White House then, too, serving as a deputy to President Gerald R. Ford before succeeding Donald H. Rumsfeld as chief of staff.

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