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Gonzales spy hearing - open thread

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UPDATE: See the latest liveblog thread here.

WATCH THE HEARING ONLINE: I can't get it to work, but it's here. You can also watch it here.

SPECTER: FISA has a blanket prohibition against electronic surveillance without a court order.

Probable causes has substantial flexibility.

FISA court has a great reputation, no leaks. When that court has secrets, they keep the secrets. Whether the administration will consider sending this entire program to the court for their evalution? (this was one of the questions we posed last night.)

Ooh, now Specter is warning Gonzales about lying to Congress, it's against the law, and the penalties are equivalent to the penalties for perjury. Yowza. Shot across that bow.

This is the first of a series of hearings, there will be at least two more.

FEINGOLD: Asking why in this case Gonzales is not being sworn, but was sworn in during confirmation. The reason you'd want him sworn is that certain statements were made under oath during confirmation hearing. We'd want him sworn in to answer those sworn statements.

LEAHY: I'd asked earlier that he be sworn in today. Especially because of what he said to Feingold previously, I think he should be sworn.

SPECTER: I reviewed the Feingold transcript, I've reviewed what Gonzales said, I've reviewed the case where Poindexter was convicted of lying under oath, I've reviewed where Oliver North was convicted of perjury, it is my judgment that it is unnecessary to sear the witness?

(why? So is Specter downplaying the lying?)

I asked the Attorney General if he'd mind being sworn in, he said he wouldn't.

(so why is Specter saying no?)

LEAHY: Keeps pushing about swearing him in.

(now they're having a roll call vote to get the Republicans on the record protecting Gonzales from being sworn in.)

FEINGOLD: I request to see the proxies given by the Republican senators. (yowza! that's bitchy. he's questioning whether the proxies given by the missing gop senators really exist and were for the current vote.)

SESSIONS: How dare we question poor Mr. Gonzales' credibility! (uh, because he lied?) It's a question of propriety and good taste (and what do you call lying to congress?)

LEAHY: Question isn't whether the govt should have all the tools necessary to protect the American people, of course it should! President has decided to do it illegally instead of legally.

(okay this is interesting, Specter is letting Leahy rip into Gonzales before the testimony even starts. Yes, the minority gets opening statements, but this iddn't seem to be an opening statement, and now is, I just think it's interesting that Leahy is really ripping into Gonz and calling what he and Bush did illegal outright, and that Specter isn't saying anything (Specter may want to use the Dems to do his dirty work that he's too afraid to do).)

I wish Bush had done a better job and caught bin Laden. My concern is when we see peaceful Quakers being spied upon. When we have babies and nuns being put on special watch lists not being able to fly.

First let me give you a message. Under our Constitution the Congress is an equal branch of government. You need new laws, to amend the law, you come to us and we decide. You have to follow the law. The rule of law. It's the rule under which our nation was followed.

(no response/defense from specter - interesting)

GONZALES: Osama bin Laden, Osama, Osama, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. We're chicken shit, we're chicken shit, we're chicken shit. America has never faced an enemy before, the Revolutionary War was easy, so was the Civil War, and those two World Wars, no big deal - cake walk. This war is different and we're really scared. (Ok, he didn't quite say that, I'm paraphrasing)

Only international communications are allowed to be listened to.

Only if a professional at the NSA deems that one person on the end is Al Qaeda or an affiliate (whatever that means).

(Okay, now he's just lying. So we're to believe that this super secret program that no one could guessed existed (otherwise leaking it wouldn't harm America, and Cheney and Bush told us it did), only involves spying on Al Qaeda phone calls. Uh, then why wouldn't your own deputy attorney general approve it? Why is the fact that this program exists now a problem because Al Qaeda now knows about it - Al Qaeda didn't think we were trying to bug their phone calls into the US?)

Presidents have authorized warrantless searches.

General Washington, letters between british operatives.

Lincoln, warrantless wiretapping of telegraph messages during civil war.

Wilson during WWI, each and every cable, telephone and telegraph into and out of US.

WWII, used listening devices to find spies in US.

(Of course, uh, did we have a FISA law in place that said you couldn't do this? No. Now we have the law in place and it's illegall for Bush to do what he did. You can't say that something was legal 200 years ago but now even when there's a law against it, we're still gonna do it because sGeorge Washington did it.)

Now he's saying the resolution authorizing war is exactly the thing that authorized all of this. So now "all necessary and appropriate force" means spy on Americans without a search warrant. How can anyone say it's not necessary and appropriate to intercept Al Qaeda phone calls?

(Well here's a thought. You guys seem to have a pretty crappy track record hitting your targets. You arrest innocent people, you invade the wrong country, and now you'd like us to assume that you don't need a court order to eavesdrop because you're ONLY going to be spying on Al Qaeda, no mistakes, no Americans accidentally caught up in your net, no over-reaching by your agents. Uh huh.)

Hamdi? Funny, Hamdi was caught on a battlefield in Afghanistan. Kind of different from spying on Quakers in the US.

Oh, now Gonzales is saying that our enemy is watching and smiling because anyone would question Lord God Bush. So the Dems and Specter are making Osama smile. Funny, but had Bush caught Osama, he wouldn't be smiling anymore.

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