Will it go round in circles?

Alberto Gonzales, overseer.

Topics: War Room, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Espionage,

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?

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>