The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed skepticism
Sunday over President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, joining a
chorus of Republicans and Democrats who are questioning its legal
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who will hold hearings next month on the
decision to allow the National Security Agency program without court
approval, said he has told Bush administration officials that he
believes they are on shaky legal ground. Specter noted, "if 'enough
people around here' push hard enough, it will be hard to keep
President Bush out of the fire."
Bush has pointed to a congressional resolution passed after the
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that authorized him to use force in the
fight against terrorism as allowing him to order the program. The
program authorized eavesdropping of international phone calls and
e-mails of people deemed a terror risk.
"I thought they were wrong," Specter said on ABC's "This Week." "There
still may be different collateral powers under wartime situations.
That is a knotty question."
A number of members of Specter's committee, including GOP Sen. Sam
Brownback of Kansas, have expressed doubt about the administration's
legal basis. The hearings, planned for early February, will feature
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Specter, speaking in general terms, noted that impeachment and
criminal prosecution are possibilities in the event a president acted
But Specter added: "Although there have been talks about possible
impeachment, I don't hear as much talk about it recently here. I don't
think anyone doubts the president is making a good-faith effort. He's acting
in a way that he feels he must, even though a few members of congress
are looking rather askance at the whole thing. If anyone brings up the
subject of impeachment again, people will listen, and some members are
very divided on their opinions about it."
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A good impeachment! That would surely
warm my heart, seeing Dubya getting hustled for dear life three or
four months from now, but unlike Nixon, where even the Republican
members of Congress were unable to save him, I suspect this time Bush
would manage to pull through -- even if just barely. PAT]