Hayden vote latest example of Senate ignoring Bush Administration wrong doing
May 28, 2006
The Senate's confirmation May 26, 2006, of Gen. Michael Hayden to be the new CIA director is the latest troubling example of a weak and ineffective Senate willing to look the other way in the face of strong evidence of Constitutional wrong-doing by the Bush Administration.

In this case, the Senate confirmed a man who was at the heart of the NSA's wire-tapping of American citizens, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and in violation of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And they did so knowing from Hayden's testimony in his confirmation hearing last week that, when faced with that ethical dilemma, of having to choose between obeying the President or obeying the FISA law, he chose to obey the President.

It took a lot of nerve for the President to put forward Gen. Hayden's nomination. It was an in-your-face appointment, a dare to the Senators, to see how they would react to the promoting, the rewarding, of a key figure in that scandal.

Three-quarters of the Senate rolled over and played dead. The vote was 78-15, with seven Senators not voting. Both of Maine's Republican Senators voted to confirm.

The Senators with backbones were Bayh (D-IN), Cantwell (D-WA), Clinton (D-NY), Dayton (D-MN), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Harkin (D-IA), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Obama (D-IL), Specter (R-PA), Wyden (D-OR).

Not voting at all, for whatever reason, were Boxer (D-CA), Conrad (D-ND), Dole (R-NC), Inouye (D-HI), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Thune (R-SD).

Sen. Olympia Snowe denied that her vote to confirm Gen. Hayden constituted an endorsement of the secret wiretapping of American citizens that were conducted while he was in charge, saying: "Many questions still remain concerning NSA programs conducted during Gen. Hayden's tenure, and my decision to support his confirmation is not a vote of confidence in the propriety or efficacy of these programs."

I called that quote a "verbal signing statement, in the tradition of George Bush, telling us that her official vote doesn't mean what it, in fact, does mean."

If Sen. Snowe were really worried about "the propriety or efficacy of these programs," why is she trying to make them legal retroactively? Sen. Snowe has co-authored a bill, the DeWine/Snowe bill, that would do just that. Her bill would also set up an oversight committee with no subpoena or enforcement powers, a committee only capable of looking the other way at future violations. That bill, if passed, would get both Hayden and the President off the hook.

The confirmation of Gen. Hayden is just another troubling example of the drive of the current Congress to hand over its powers to an administration that has proven it can't be trusted.