The Security Issue


Unka Karl’s clever plan calls for the Republikkkans to make national security their centerpiece issue in this year’s congressional elections. But they are anything but unified on his pet issue, exhibiting nothing but chaos onwarrantless wiretapping

Deepening Republican divisions over the future of President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program may jeopardize GOP leaders’ hopes of making terrorism surveillance legislation a centerpiece of their final legislative push this month.


Republican leaders have planned to produce legislation by month’s end that would give the administration as much latitude as possible to continue the program. But that effort may be splintering. The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider as many as four contradictory bills on the issue tomorrow and could approve all of them. That would leave it to Senate leaders and the White House to sort out how to proceed.

Meanwhile, House Republican leaders and the chairmen of the House Judiciary and intelligence committees are coalescing around surveillance legislation that goes beyond legislation negotiated by Vice President Cheney and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).

…anddetainee trials.

Key Republican senators have drafted a legislative plan for special military trials of suspected terrorists that diverges from a recent Bush administration plan by granting defendants rights that the White House has sought to proscribe, government officials said yesterday.

Under the lawmakers’ plan, any future military trials of the nearly 200 eligible U.S. detainees held in military prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other locations around the world would be governed by a law that explicitly ensures that defendants have the right to know the evidence against them.


The administration still contends that military prosecutors should be able to present sensitive evidence to military judges but withhold it from defendants.

But the sponsors of the legislation — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — disagreed. They have embraced the view of senior uniformed military lawyers that blocking defendants’ access to evidence would violate long-standing due-process standards and set a dangerous precedent for trials of captured U.S. military personnel.

The White House has tried to stymie what it views as an act of party rebellion on the matter, dispatching acting Assistant Attorney General Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, to complain about the draft on Capitol Hill last week. White House national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley has also tried to persuade lawmakers to withdraw or modify their measure.