Alberto Gonzales, overseer.
As Walter Pincus reports in the Washington Post today, “senior government officials” say Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell will design the procedures for using the new surveillance powers Congress has approved and determine whether the administration is complying with them.
We’d call this “checks and balances, the White House way,” only it’s the system that Congress approved when Congress approved the new surveillance powers over the weekend: Gonzales and McConnell draw up the procedures, the FISA court gets to say if they’re OK, then Gonzales and McConnell decide whether Bush administration officials are using the procedures in the way that Gonzales and McConnell directed. As Pincus notes, Gonzales and McConnell will be required to “certify” that the surveillance being done is being done pursuant to the new law, “but the certification will be placed under seal ‘unless the certification is necessary to determine the legality of the acquisition.’”
If your head is spinning from the circularity of it all, maybe this will give you some comfort: The authority granted by the surveillance legislation expires after six months, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she wants to see it rewritten even before then. But here’s a question: If Democrats in the House and the Senate found it impossible to resist giving the Bush administration surveillance powers it didn’t already have, are they really going to be comfortable taking those powers away once Gonzales and McConnell can start claiming — while keeping the details under seal, of course — that the new powers are already working to stop terrorist attacks?
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Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
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Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
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O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
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Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
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When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
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A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
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