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Separation of powers in action

According to The Jawa Report, Congress may soon act to authorize precisely the kind of NSA eavesdropping the president has been criticized for of late.

I saw this coming, of course. It was pretty clear to me that Congress and/or the courts would have to step in and clarify the limits of executive authority on this issue. That's called "checks and balances," and it's the way our country is designed to work. It's also why I thought it premature to start shrieking "IMPEACHMENT!" at the top of my lungs the instant the story broke, before the other branches of government had had their say.

Anyway, here's the relevant bit from the Washington Post.

U.S. surveillance laws should be reviewed and possibly rewritten to allow the type of eavesdropping that U.S. President George W. Bush has been criticized for authorizing, lawmakers from both parties said on Sunday.
"What he's (Rove) trying to pretend is somehow Democrats don't want to eavesdrop appropriately to protect the country. That's a lie," Kerry said. "We're prepared to eavesdrop wherever and whenever necessary in order to make America safer."


But Kerry said the spying has to be legal and constitutional and if Bush needs the law to be changed, "then come to us and tell us... There is a way to protect the Constitution and not go off on your own and violate it."

Other prominent Democratic senators including Dick Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut made similar comments about reexamining the breadth and modernity of FISA in television interviews a few days after Rove urged Republicans to campaign on national security and the war on terror.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who has also questioned the legality of the eavesdropping, also urged the administration to work with Congress on modernizing the 1978 FISA law to take into account technological changes in communications.

"I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here's why we need this capability, that they wouldn't get it. And so let's have the hearings," McCain said on Fox News Sunday.

It's hard to disagree. I think Congress should address this matter as soon as possible. And then? Constitutional crisis averted. But don't be surprised if the end result isn't exactly helpful for the pro-impeachment lobby.