Tinsel Wing

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Tice testimony: a damp squib?

Russell Tice delivered his testimony to a select handful of members of the House Armed Services Committee. He says he told them "everything he knows"; the testimony was given in closed session, and they are sharing none of it with the class.

For some while the House Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, in the persons of its chair, Christopher Shays (R-CT), and its ranking member Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), has tried to get the same debriefing. The NSA is balking, withholding permission, and refusing to say why. Think Progress on June 6 (yes, I'm playing catchup here), cited CongressDaily:

Tice said his information is different from the terrorist surveillance program that President Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts last month that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. Because he worked on special access programs, however, it has not been clear on Capitol Hill which committees have jurisdiction to debrief him. Shays and Kucinich gave the NSA until Friday to explain any legal reason why they cannot interview him. But that deadline passed without a response, and a subcommittee aide today called the missed deadline troubling.

Shays and Kucinich had originally asked the NSA to give them a reason by May 26, but the agency asked for an extension until June 9.

If NSA refuses to allow Congress to do its job, Tice cannot presumably speak to the press to get the word out, since his own phones are certainly tapped (without a warrant), and so are the phones of the most influential reporters (without a warrant).

The Bush regime has pitched the Fourth Amendment, requiring warrants for searches and seizures, out the window. Others are following behind it. Used to be that "You have the right to remain silent" was a clause of the Fifth Amendment. These days, it seems to be turning into the substance of the First as well.


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