Investigate legality of Bush's eavesdropping program? "Not my job, man"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 04:36 PM

Continuing America's descent into political nightmare, word comes today from the AP that the first problem in getting an investigation into the legality of the president's warrantless surveillance program is not the need for speed, not the need to get the public the information it needs to understand what's been going on, but.......deciding exactly whch branch of which agency is the one to do the job.

More than 30 House Democrats, led by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) requested separate investigations by Glenn Fine of Justice's Inspector General office, the Pentagon's inspector general, and Congress' watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office.

The Justice Department's Inspector General says it does not have jurisdiction, but not to worry, because it forwarded the investigation request (from Dems) to: "Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility, which reviews allegations of misconduct involving employees' actions when providing legal advice."

Isn't that helpful?  We may not get a ruling on the actual legality, but in no time at all we'll know if the people who gave the president legal advice that the program was okay have committed "misconduct."

A senior Defense Department official anonymously said the Pentagon's watchdog will not do a review because the NSA's inspector general is "actively reviewing aspects of that program."

Isn't that helpful?  "It's not my job, because the agency that may well be breaking the law is still investigating itself."  While the potentially illegal activity goes on.  And on.

No word yet on the GAO's response.  But the lead Democrat,  Zoe Lofgren of California, and several of her colleagues, wrote back to Justice's Inspector General with their view that his decision not to open an inquiry was wrong because the Patriot Act designates his office as the "one entity responsible for the review of information and complaints regarding civil rights and civil liberties violations" by Justice officials.

No dice with that, either.  Deputy Inspector General Paul Martin said neither the Patriot Act nor the law that governs all inspectors general gives his office jurisdiction to look into the issue.