Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday condemned Intelligence Committee Democrats for brokering a deal with the White House that would provide retroactive immunity for telephone companies that assisted the Bush administration's controversial warrantless wiretapping program.
At the second day of confirmation hearings for President Bush's Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey, Leahy warned that "the Intelligence Committee is about to cave on this," citing pressure from the White House and press reports suggesting the administration had gotten its way.
Administration officials] know that it was illegal conduct and that there is no saving grace for the president to say, 'Well, I was acting with authority,' " said Leahy. "Otherwise there wouldn't be so much pressure on us to immunize illegal conduct by either people acting within our government or within the private industry."
That Leahy heard about this in the press and from the White House might give you some idea of how poor the communication lines actually are in the Senate. And then there's this, from Senator Feinstein.
Not all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee appeared to share Leahy's concerns. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, signaled she was likely to support the bipartisan approach.
"At this stage, it is a bipartisan bill," Feinstein said. "I'm absolutely convinced that the only way we can legislate on this is on a bipartisan basis. This bill so far is bipartisan - that's good news."
I guess that's the expectation. So here we have Rockefeller and Feinstein versus Dodd and Leahy on amnesty for the telecom companies.