Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Real Purpose of Congressional Hearings

Senator Dick Durbin inadvertently reveals the real purpose of holding oversight hearings. The Senatorial Judiciary Committee is considering calling in phone executives to ask them about the story about their giving phone records to the NSA. Senator Kyl, my favorite senator, doesn't see the point. If they do bring them in, Kyl, Orrin Hatch, and Diane Feinstein want to question them in closed door session. You know, because it concerns national security and all that important stuff that senators are supposed to care about.

But not the famed Nazi-hunter, Dick Durbin.
Kyl and Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the executives should be questioned in a closed session to protect the effectiveness of the NSA surveillance ordered by President Bush to detect terrorist plots after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) questioned the value of a closed session if members could not publicly discuss what the executives told the committee. "What's the point?" he asked.
Let us translate Durbinese: "If we can't make a big political deal out of these hearings and slam the Bush administration and the NSA, what's the point?"

This is just so priceless. If he were interested in finding out more about the program and if it were accomplishing its goals and if it were violating rights, he'd be happy with a closed-door session. But that is not his goal at all. Pure politics is his goal and so he must not be bound by any sticky little oath of silence that a closed-door session implies.