The Post today says the top three officials at Justice, including Attorney General Gonzales, threatened to resign if records and documents seized in the court-approved raid on Congressman Jefferson's office had to be returned. That prompted President Bush to step into a real hornets nest to order the info be sealed.
Congressional leaders continue to allow liberty and individual rights to drift further and further away from average citizens, but when it comes to keeping themselves free from scrutiny and investigaton, they are united.
I doubt may voters have any sympathy for them, since they have abandoned us. Scandals, corruption, and the inability to encourage ethical behavior has meant their approval ratings are even below the Bushh free fall into negativity.
An editorial in today's USA Today (the less filling, more taste newspaper) they call the political leaders out:
"Now we know what it takes to make Congress mad enough to stand up for constitutional rights.
When the government snoops on your phone calls and records without warrants, lawmakers barely kick up a fuss. But when the target is a fellow congressman — one under investigation for taking a bribe, no less — they're ready to rumble.
Witness the bipartisan frenzy set off after the FBI searched the Capitol Hill offices of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., on Saturday. The FBI had a court order. According to an FBI affidavit, he was videotaped taking $100,000 in cash from an investor working undercover for the FBI. Agents found $90,000 of it stuffed in his freezer at home, the affidavit said.
Never mind all that. Leaders of the House of Representatives are appalled. They say the search violated the Constitution's separation of powers, "designed to protect the Congress and the American people from abuse of power."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who rarely agree on anything, demanded that the Justice Department return the "unconstitutionally seized" documents. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the episode raised "profoundly disturbing" questions. He set a hearing for Tuesday to ask: "Did the Saturday night raid of Congress trample the Constitution?"
If only those leaders were as profoundly disturbed about executive branch incursions on the rights of average citizens. You certainly have to wonder where they've been for the past several years while the Bush administration ran roughshod over the legislative branch and launched anti-terror programs of questionable legality.
Last December, The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was wiretapping international phone calls without court warrants. Hastert didn't make a peep. Pelosi and other Democrats loudly protested, but nothing came of it. As it turns out, Pelosi was part of a tiny leadership group that had been briefed on the program since October 2001.
The scenario repeated itself this month when USA TODAY revealed that the NSA has collected millions of phone records.
So now the leadership swings into action because the FBI searched a Capitol Hill office for evidence of criminal activity?"