May 19, 2006

"There were two types of senators... the briefed, and the briefed-nots."

That's Sheryl Gay Stolberg's sharp take on the Hayden confirmation hearings:
The former were mostly polite. The latter, especially Democrats, threw the Congressional equivalent of a temper tantrum.

General Hayden, President Bush's nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, invoked what he termed "a very crude airman's metaphor" in suggesting he believed lawmakers should have been informed earlier by the White House of its secretive domestic eavesdropping program, which he oversaw when he ran the National Security Agency.

"If you want people with the craft," the general said, "you've got to put them on the manifest."
So Hayden sets himself apart from the administration on the one issue that is reliably riling the Senators, and the Senators' behavior bolster the assumption that if we only knew the details of the program, we would approve.


Hayden seems to have a way with words, as he found different ways of saying the same thing, instead of just annoyingly repeating a stock phrase in response to the many questions asking for information he could only provide in the closed session. Example: "I will give you just a touch more granularity in the closed session."


Jacques Cuze said...

The former were mostly polite. The latter, especially Democrats, threw the Congressional equivalent of a temper tantrum.

This may have been what happened, but there is nothing to back up her analysis in her reporting piece. The only senator she quoted that was in any way okay with the briefing process was Senator Pat Roberts.

Every other senator she quoted, left, and right, seem both upset, and reasonable in their protests.

From her article I see absolutely no evidence of a temper tantrum, or of any specific Democratic temper tantrum.

And I find no evidence to support your assumption, "that if we only knew the details of the program, we would approve."

That is quite an assumption to make about a privacy invading program with no oversight, especially for a student and defender of the constitution.

Have you read about "thin thread?" the legal, effective, and abandoned program to do the same thing just way better?

WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency developed a pilot program in the late 1990s that would have enabled it to gather and analyze massive amounts of communications data without running afoul of privacy laws. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, it shelved the project--not because it failed to work--but because of bureaucratic infighting and a sudden expansion in the agency's surveillance powers that was granted by the White House, according to several intelligence officials.

The agency opted instead to adopt only one component of the program, which produced a far less capable and rigorous program.

Bonus Quiz: Patrick Henry or Pat Roberts?

Which one said which:

Pat: You have no civil liberties if you are dead."

Pat: Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

HaloJonesFan said...

Nice turn of phrase, but both Feingold and Feinstein are on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Take it from me, they're briefed.

Indeed, you'd be pretty surprised at what they're allowed to know solely by virtue of being elected. I had to go through a six-month background check. Feinstein just had to look cute enough to get a majority of San Francisco to vote for her.

alkali said...

The Senators would do well to keep their voices moderate and reasonable at all times, because that worked so well for Mr. Rumkowski.

Too Many Jims said...

Before the hearings, Ann wrote:

"If it [the NSA call monitoring program] is not made a central issue in the confirmation, I think I'm going to assume that the critics believe that airing the issue will hurt them."

I thought then that I am not sure that was entirely "fair." I thougght that Hayden might try to answer questions by saying, essentially, "I can't tell you about te program but it makes us safer." Which would have the effect of making the inquistors look like people who didn't care about the security vs. liberty tension but rather about politics. To a certain degree I think my concern was borne out as I understand he has not offered to answer questions on specifics (deferring them to the closed session) and has said things like "If we had this program before 9/11 we would have caught 2 of the hijackers."

It will be interesting to see how Senators comment/vote after the slosed sessions.

I am curious how Ann perceives whether the NSA program was sufficiently central to the questioning.

Bissage said...

Jacques Cuze: What happened to the whimsy of your other names?

Come on, you can do better than this.

Here's hoping.

Ann Althouse said...

Halo: "Feinstein just had to look cute enough to get a majority of San Francisco to vote for her."

Feinstein is a Senator. She represents the most populous state. I don't think you can brush her off that easily!

Here's a question, how many U.S. Presidents in history represented a population that was smaller than the population Feinstein represents today?

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Too Many Jims said...

"Here's a question, how many U.S. Presidents in history represented a population that was smaller than the population Feinstein represents today?"

I know (or guessed) it was a rhetorical question but figured how hard could it be to figure out. So here is my guess: 16, maybe 17.

According to the U.S. census California's population was 35,893,799 in 2000 ( The U.S. Census shows that in 1860 was about 31.4 million and in 1870 was about 38.6 million. (

So it happened in there some time but then again so did the Civil War.

Now if you were to change the question from "population" to "eligible voters" or something of the sort you might get into the 1900s.

Jacques Cuze said...

If I could move to Mexifornia, whether it was headed by El Presidente Schwartzenegger or Feinstein, I would strongly consider it.

Imagine being able to drive our hybrids and hydrogen powered vehicles from Cabo San Lucas to Vancouver. The agriculture, the schools, the cities, the people, the beaches, the Volcanoes, the skiing, the freedom, wow!

Old Dad said...

You had to know that this was coming....

Was Teddy Kennedy unbriefed?

The Drill SGT said...

From Malkin's site, briefees


Intelligence Committee members:

The current chairman, Pat Roberts, R-Kan: 10.
The top Democrat, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia: eight.
A former chairman, now-retired Bob Graham, D-Fla.: four.
A former chairman, Richard Shelby, R-Ala.: four.
Mike DeWine, R-Ohio: two.
Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: two.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. two.
Carl Levin, D-Mich.: two.
Kit Bond, R-Mo.: two.

Other senators:

Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.: two.
Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: two.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: one.
Top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii: one.
A former minority leader, now-retired Tom Daschle, D-S.D.: one.


Intelligence Committee members:

The top Democrat, Jane Harman of California: eight.
A former chairman, now-retired Porter Goss, R-Fla.: seven.
The current chairman, Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.: seven.
Heather Wilson. R-N.M.: three.
John McHugh, R-N.Y.: two.
Mike Rogers, R-Mich.: two.
Mac Thornberry, R-Texas: two.
Rush Holt, D-N.J.: two.
Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.: two.
Jo Ann Davis, R-Va.: one.
Bud Cramer, D-Ala.: one.
Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa: one.

Other representatives:

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: six.
Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.: three.
Chairman of the Appropriations Committee's defense panel, Bill Young, R-Fla.: two.
The defense panel's top Democrat, John Murtha of Pennsylvania: two.
Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas: one.

SteveR said...

One assumes the briefed-nots were boxered. California has a Boxer and a Briefed.