Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I saw this exchange on CBS News tonight, at the end of a report by White House correspondent John Roberts about NSA wiretapping. The transcript's mine. Bob Schieffer seemed genuinely nonplussed:

JOHN ROBERTS: ...In fact, one Republican senator told CBS News tonight she might consider loosening the standards for approving the wiretap and allowing more officials at the Justice Department, not just the attorney general, to authorize eavesdropping, so that it could begin just as soon as the NSA needed it. Bob?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Now, just a second, John. Are you telling me there's a feeling amongst Republicans up in the Congress that they're going to give more people in the government the authority to eavesdop without warrants? Is that what you're saying here?

ROBERTS: That's what one Republican senator is suggesting, that instead of making all eavesdropping or wiretapping requests go through the attorney general, that some lower-level officials might be available and able to be able
[sic] to authorize these wiretaps. It would spread it out among dozens of people instead of just a single one at the top.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you think the mood is up there? Do you think anything like that could pass?

ROBERTS: It's certainly being considered by Republicans. They've got the majority in the Senate and in the House. If they want it, they'll probably get it.

Who the hell are we talking about? Some little-known zealot a few levels down on the DoJ organizational chart? Some future John Yoo? What unelected, unaccountable person do they want to have this power?

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