Editorial: Congress is returning to its role of oversight
Congress may finally be returning to its rightful Constitutional oversight role over the Bush administration. Senator John McCain of Arizona has stood his ground until President Bush blinked Thursday. Under intense bipartisan pressure led by McCa...
Congress may finally be returning to its rightful Constitutional oversight role over the Bush administration.
Senator John McCain of Arizona has stood his ground until President Bush blinked Thursday. Under intense bipartisan pressure led by McCain, Bush reluctantly backed the senator's call for a law banning degrading, cruel, and inhumane treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.
Congress correctly backed McCain's position on a torture ban, in spite of Vice President Dick Cheney's intense fight to defeat the amendment or at least exempt the CIA from its provisions.
McCain's proposal basically establishes the Army Field Manual as the standard for prisoner interrogation and bans the type of abusive prisoner treatment that occurred at Abu Ghraib.
On Friday, the Senate blocked passage of a new Patriot Act to combat terrorism due to its threat to Americans' civil liberties. The law, first enacted following the anxious days following Sept. 11, 2001, is set to expire at year's end.
Much of the criticism of the Patriot Act lies in law enforcement agencies being granted powers to secretly access personal data, including library and medical records, during investigation of suspected terrorist activities.
Congress appears to be increasingly wary of giving the Bush administration a free ride on critical issues. Earlier this week news reports stated the Pentagon was maintaining a secret database of information about suspicious people and activities inside the United States. One example was a Quaker Meeting House in Florida where activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools.
On Friday, newspapers reported that the National Security Agency under orders from President Bush has eavesdropped without warrants on more than 500 people inside the United States.
President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales all refused Friday to confirm or deny whether the NSA was spying on Americans.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter announced Friday that his panel would hold hearings into the government eavesdropping allegations.
It is heartening to see Congress stepping up to practice and maintain its oversight responsibility. One wonders what has taken them so long.