Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Playing politics with potential nominees

The president hasn't even named a nominee yet to succeed Attorney General Gonzales, and already the Democrats are whining and making threats ABC reports:

The confirmation battle for the next Attorney General is already heating up -- even before the White House has named a nominee for the post.

ABC News has confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Reuters this afternoon that "Ted Olson will not be confirmed."

Olson, a former Solicitor General and Assistant Attorney General, has emerged as a top contender for the job, but Democrats have charged that his political leanings would influence his work as the nation's top law enforcement official, an accusation that has plagued the Justice Department under current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

"He's [Olson] a partisan, and the last thing we need as an attorney general is a partisan," Reid told Reuters.

Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Regan nominated Olson to his previous positions with the Justice Department, and Olson has served as private counsel to both presidents.

Bush has still not made up his mind on a nominee, and officials have cautioned for days that speculation about Olson may not enhance his chances of being selected. Olson would be a political lightning rod because of his prominent role arguing and winning the 2000 vote count case in which the Supreme Court decided the election in President Bush's favor.

That's not the only thing that will rile the Left up on Olson. See, he participated in, to date, the only time the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review has ever been called into session, and it was for one of the most important, landmark cases in this nation's history. Byron York highlighted this case for NRO in March of 2006:

In early September 2002, just before the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a group of lawyers gathered in a heavily protected, windowless room in the Department of Justice building in Washington. There were three federal appeals-court judges, Laurence Silberman, Edward Leavy, and Ralph Guy. There was Theodore Olson, the U.S. solicitor general. There was Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general. And there was John Yoo, the Justice official who had closely studied questions of war powers and presidential authority. Rounding out the group were a few other department staffers, one official from the FBI, and David Addington, Vice President Cheney's top lawyer.

The purpose of the meeting was to argue a case whose details remain so classified that they are known by only a few people, but whose outcome, a decision known as In re: Sealed Case, has become one of the key documents in the hottest argument in Washington today: the fight over what President Bush calls the "terrorist surveillance" of persons with known al-Qaeda connections, and what the president's opponents call "domestic spying."

The three judges made up what is known as the FISA Court of Review. It was created in 1978 by the now-famous Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act required that the president go to the so-called FISA Court to seek a warrant for surveillance in top-secret foreign-intelligence cases. For any disputed decisions that might arise, Congress also created the Court of Review, a sort of super-secret appeals court.

But in all the years between 1978 and 2002, there had never been occasion for the Court of Review to actually meet. Not until Sealed Case, and the three-way collision between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches that it involved. Today, a look at the circumstances of the case provides not only an insight into the administration's rationale for the secret, warrantless surveillance program but also important clues to the mystery of how the whole thing got started in the first place.

He was instrumental in arguing this case, and as the potential AG, the Left would find it difficult to argue against how he looks at this program, which is still under the purview of the NSA, and the FISA court. Sure, they'll put out the long knives for him over the 2000 election (of which the USSC's decision still sticks in their craw), but the much larger focus will likely be on Sealed Case. As a matter of fact, given how nasty the Democrats seem wiling to play politics right now, it wouldn't surprise us one bit if they dug up aspects of this classified case, and exposed it for everyone to see.

But this shows just how desperate and afraid they are of this appointment. They're hoping he'll put someone up there that is pliable; able to be twisted the way Gonzales was. They don't want to see a tough-as-nails, Ashcroft-like AG under the president heading up Justice. If we can speculate the stops they'd pull out to stop another USSC appointment, then imagine the same will come for Olson, if he's nominated, or any other strong nominee the president puts up. We're still hedging bets that Olson will be the one appointed, and we're sure the "festivities" will be hilarious to watch as Olson would run rings around the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Publius II


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