Censure makes investigation more likely
We understand the frustration that led Senator Russell Feingold to introduce a measure that would censure President Bush for authorizing warrantless spying on Americans. It's galling to watch from the outside as the Republicans and most Democrats refuse time and again to hold Mr. Bush accountable for the lawlessness and incompetence of his administration. Actually sitting among that cowardly crew must be maddening.
Still, the censure proposal is a bad idea. Members of Congress don't need to take extraordinary measures like that now. They need to fulfill their sworn duty to investigate the executive branch's misdeeds and failings. Talk about censure will only distract the public from the failure of their elected representatives to earn their paychecks.
-- -- --
When the Republicans try to block an investigation, as they surely will, Senator Harry Reid, the minority leader, should not be afraid to highlight that fact by shutting down the Senate's public business, as he did last year. This time, though, Mr. Reid needs to follow up. The first time Mr. Reid forced the Senate into a closed session, Mr. Roberts said he would keep his promise about an investigation into the hyping of intelligence on Iraq. But Mr. Roberts continues to sit on that report.
The nation needs to know a great deal more about the domestic spying. How many people's calls and e-mail were tapped? How were they chosen? Was Mr. Bush planning to do this until the war on terror ended -- that is, forever? The public should be asking why members of Congress are afraid to make those important and legitimate queries.
Ironically, they kind of support Feingold's point. Yes, an investigation should be held before a censure or impeachment. But the drive for investigation was being swept under the rug and Feingold felt (rightly) that something as bold as a censure resolution was the only chance we had to get it back out in the open.
Consider this: Feingold offering censure gives the NY Times the additionally opportunity to cajole an investigation as a compromise. If Feingold hadn't offered a censure resolution then would the Times have been as strong in their call for an investigation? Or would they have been a participant in the effort to sweep it under the rug?
One final note: The Times says "When the Republicans try to block an investigation..."
Umm, where have you guys been? The Republicans have already tried to block said investigation by voting against it in the Senate Intelligence Committee. They've tried to block it by not putting Gonzalez under oath when he testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now they are introducing legislation that would effectively legalize Bush's illegal activity after the fact. What further blocking maneuvers do the Republicans have to make before the Times realizes that the Republicans have already shown their true intentions?