Recently, three dozen Democrats in Congress asked the Pentagon’s Inspector General, Glenn Fine, to open an investigation into the Bush administration’s domestic spying program. They chose the Inspector General to receive this request because under the Patriot Act, they believed the IG’s office was the proper entity required to review complaints of violations of civil liberties by Bush’s Justice Department.
What was Inspector General Fine’s response?
WASHINGTON — Rejecting Democratic requests, the Justice Department’s independent watchdog says it does not have jurisdiction to investigate the legality of the Bush administration’s domestic eavesdropping program.
More after the fold . . .
In a three-paragraph letter circulated Tuesday, Inspector General Glenn Fine instead forwarded the request to Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which reviews allegations of misconduct involving employees’ actions when providing legal advice.
President Bush’s decision to authorize the nation’s largest spy agency to monitor — without warrants — people inside the United States has sparked a flurry of questions about the program’s legal justification.
Over three dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a member of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, requested separate investigations by Fine, the Pentagon’s inspector general and Congress’ watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office. Lofgren said she thought the Pentagon’s watchdog was best suited for the work.
The upshot? I could be wrong, but I suspect that their request for an investigation by the GAO will also be rejected. As for the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility, don’t expect anything out of them, not while they are under the thumb of “Abu Gharaib” Gonzales.
No one in government service, whether authorized or not, will dare touch this until Democrats get a majority in either the House or the Senate. No one will be brave (or foolhardy) enough to tackle the White House on this issue, not without cover from a Congressional Committee conducting it’s own independent investigation. And by that I mean a committee chaired by a Democrat. I fully expect any hearing chaired by Republicans regarding this matter to be a whitewash.
Update [2006-1-11 20:2:54 by Steven D]: So who is going to investigate the NSA’s domestic spy program? Don’t worry, it’s all being taken care of:
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency’s inspector general has opened an investigation into the agency’s eavesdropping without warrants in the United States, according to a letter released late Tuesday.
The Pentagon’s acting inspector general, Thomas Gimble, wrote that his counterpart at the NSA “is already actively reviewing aspects of that program” and has “considerable expertise in the oversight of electronic surveillance,” according to the letter sent to House Democrats who have requested official investigations of the NSA program.
Gimble’s letter appears to confirm that an internal investigation into the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping program, authorized in a secret order by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is under way. The Justice Department has opened a separate criminal investigation into the recent leak of the highly classified program’s existence.
. . . Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said NSA’s inspector general should not be conducting an investigation if the office has played a role in approving the program.
I can’t imagine how an investigation of the NSA by the NSA regarding secret warrantless spying on American citizens ordered by President Bush will turn out. Can you?