Attorney General Denies Right to Habeas Corpus, "Special Report" Ignores
Reported by Janie - January 19, 2007 -
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday on the Administration's sudden change of heart in regards to the warrantless wiretapping program, and following the rule of law. "Special Report's" Jim Angle covered the story last night (1/18) but ignored the big story coming out of the testimony: Gonzales' and the Administration's interpretation of the Constitution and his statement that the Constitution does not guarantee the right of habeas corpus to all.
Jim Angle, biased correspondent extraordinaire spent much of the segment attacking Democrats for asking tough questions, and misrepresenting the warrantless wiretapping program as simply "surveillance of suspected Al Qaeda phone calls."
After playing clips of Senators Arlen Specter (R - PA) and Patrick Leahy (D - VT), Angle played an edited clip of Senator Diane Feinstein (D - CA) to prove that those "in the know" approve of the program.
JA: "Democrat Diane Feinstein is on the Intelligence Committee and knows all the details of the surveillance program."
DF: "I want to commend you for the action. I believe bringing it into conformance with the law is the right thing to do and in my briefings on the program, I believe you are doing that."
Comment: The clip was obviously cut off early, and her entire statement was not shown. At this moment, I do not have the full transcript of her remarks, but the clip Angle chose to use does not conform with her opinion in the past.
Angle continued, "Though eavesdropping on many suspected Al Qaeda calls into the US was authorized by a judge, the AG defended the need to undertake some surveillance without such approval."
AG: "There is a reason why we didn't do this as an initial matter shortly after the attacks of 9/11. Truth in the matter, we looked a FISA, and we all concluded there's no way we can do what we have to do to protect this country under the strict reading of FISA."
Comment: So Gonzales admits here that rather than have the law change to fit the Administration's needs, they decided to circumvent and ignore it. Angle seems to support this, and does not point out to viewers that the Attorney General effectively admitted to breaking the law.
Angle went on, "Several senators had questions about how it was possible to suddenly get the approval of the FISA court, if indeed the surveillance activities have not changed as officials insist.
That chairman and ranking Republican have asked the chief judge of the court, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (comment: the judge that turned down Saddam Hussein's appeal) to give the committee recent authorizations so it can see for itself."
PL: "They're apparently willing to provide those decisions for this committee."
JA: "But they're classified so the Administration would have to agree as well, and the AG wasn't willing to commit on that."
PL: "Are you saying that you might object to the court giving us decisions that you publicly announced? Are we in Alice in Wonderland here?"
AG: "I'm not saying that I have objections to it being released. What I'm saying is it's not my decision to make."
PL: "We're going ask the court for them anyway."
AG: "I can't remember what's in the orders now, but certainly in the application there is going to be information about operational details about how we're doing this. That we want to keep confidential. That has been shared with Senator Specter."
Comment: Angle allows the clip to play, but does not comment on the fact that the Attorney General of the United States (which, at last check was not a dictatorship) is refusing to share information with the United States Congress, who is in charge of providing oversight to ensure the Executive is not abusing its powers. Gonzales makes it appear as though Congress is not entitled to "operational details."
And while Gonzales says it's not his decision to release the documents, according to The Washington Post both he, and John Negroponte have indicated the Administration will resist in releasing this information, but Angle ignores that aspect.
"The head of the secret court that approved the program said she has no objection to releasing the documents, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte indicated the administration was likely to resist."
Angle finished, "It's not clear what prompted the FISA court to change it's view of the program, if indeed the nature of the surveillance remains the same, so some Senators are a little suspicious, but the Administration has agreed to brief the Intelligence Committees on all the details and offered a briefing to Senator Leahy as well. Clearly, most of the questions about this program can only be answered behind closed doors."
The most important piece of news to come out of the hearing yesterday was entirely ignored by Angle and the crew of "Special Report,": the Attorney General's statement that habeas corpus is not guaranteed to all citizens.
AG: “There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away."
Arlen Specter: “Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?”
AG: “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended” except in cases of rebellion or invasion.”
AS: “You may be treading on your interdiction of violating common sense."
This exchange, was by far, the most shocking, disturbing testimony to come from an Attorney General, and "Special Report" chose to completely ignore it, refusing to provide viewers with this appalling, frightening and serious development.