Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who Will Hold the President Accountable?

This is the text of a letter I sent to my Senator, Saxby Chambliss.  Mr. Chambliss likes to tell Episcopalians that his mom has been faithful to the Altar Guild of St. Margaret's Moultrie.  She is currently listed as manager of the Clergy Retreat Cottage owned by the Diocese of Georgia in Saluda, NC.

Senator Chambliss: 

I write to apologize for what I'm now calling "Part 1" of my letter to you concerning our president's in/ability to protect the Constitution and the people of this country at the same time. I am trying to understand how confusing it must be for the Chief Executive, what with all these threats that he knows about now that there are no more errors in intelligence. At least no more like the ones which mislead us into removing Saddam and destroying the Iragi infrastructure. But since he knows enough to decide without FISA oversight which international phone calls -- it is just phone calls? -- to detect (not monitor) then I have to give him the benefit of the doubt which you seem to extend to the same bureaus which gave us faulty intelligence in the first place. 

In your letter to your collegues naming your concerns for the results of the conference on reauthorization of the Patriot Act you say "I am also disappointed that certain of my colleagues have seen fit to oppose the conference report over a single issue -- the appropriate standard of judicial review of the National Security Letters non-disclosure provisions. These opponents would ask courts to assess potential damage to national security rather than the officials in our government in the intelligence and diplomatic community who are the only ones capable of making such determinations based on all available intelligence and investigative information." 

I guess if I had actually read your letter to your collegues, especially the last sentence of the portion I've just quoted, before I wrote Part 1 of this letter then I wouldn't have made the mistake of assuming that you and I mean the same thing when we say "checks and balances" or even "branches of government." 

So I am sorry for assuming that you would be the member of the Senate majority in position and of sufficient courage to hold the President accountable when he authorizes the NSA to "detect, not monitor" the international phone calls -- again, just phone calls, right? -- of persons who as far as we know are U.S. citizens. 

Finally, and so that I never again ask you to do something untoward a member of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, could you tell me now just who are the "officials . . . capable of making such determinations" on holding the president accountable to whom I should be writing with my concerns and questions? 

Praying for Peace on Earth, 


Daniel Brown 


Episcopal Center @ UGA

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