Jane Harman Is Not Happy
You can tell by the hairdo
By streiff Posted in Democrats — Comments (6) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
I commented yesterday President Bush’s speech announcing the transfer of fourteen high value detainees to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial smacked more of a marker being laid down than a caving to pressure.
BLITZER: Do you give the president credit for now coming forward and acknowledging this new policy, this major change, as far as the U.S. treatment of al Qaeda detainees?
HARMAN: … He had to do this. The Supreme Court said in June that his policy is unconstitutional, but I do think the timing is suspicious. …
Now on the first day of the legislative season following Labor Day in a campaign year, comes an 85-page bill and a rollout that includes talking points from the director of national intelligence, profiles of the 14 men -- heinous murderers in most cases -- who are being moved to Guantanamo, and Congress is basically being told either take this program or you're coddling terrorists.
Bingo, Jane, no wonder you’re on the Intelligence Committee. Nothing gets by you.
BLITZER: I assume you listened carefully to the president's speech today in which he openly talked about previously classified information involving these al Qaeda suspects, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and others. Was there anything in there that you disagreed with in terms of the facts since you have been briefed on all this information for years?
HARMAN: Yes, well, I disagree with the timing of this rollout.
Huh?? I guess that monumental non sequitur means she doesn’t disagree with any of the facts laid out in the speech. Okay back to Jane.
I would also point out that for years, those of us who have taken an oath to protect classified information have never disclosed anything we know, and now on day one of the final two months leading up to the election, the president dumps it all out there and talks about 14 people who are, in my view, serious, heinous criminals.
This is going to be a news flash to you, but the President has the authority to declassify information. It’s in the law, look it up. Members of Congress don’t have that authority.
So I'm not soft on any of these people, but what I'm saying is that Congress has a constitutional responsibility to protect the Constitution, to protect the laws we've passed, and to make certain that whatever process applies to these people will, in our eyes and the world's eyes, seem to be fair.
Fair in the eyes of the world. Shades of the freaking Global Test.
BLITZER: So what are you suggesting? The president who has the authority to declassify whatever he wants -- he can do it whenever he wants -- you are saying that he is declassifying sensitive national security information for partisan political purposes?
Good point, Wolf. We always appreciate it when you newsies actually seem to understand the questions you are asking.
HARMAN: Well, I'm saying it's a bit suspicious. The timing is suspicious. He has been compelled to come to Congress because of the Supreme Court decision in Hamdan in June. He could have come to Congress right after that decision, or he might have come to Congress in July or in August, maybe, but we were out of session so, he comes now when this month, 24-7, is going to be all terror and nothing but terror.
And he is rolling out a program designed to force members of Congress in a box. Either you support an 85-page bill that expands executive power, or you are coddling terrorists. I resent that. I'm a serious legislator, and I think that Congress has a lot of good information, and we should fashion a program that carefully balances the need to interrogate people effectively, which I truly support, especially these kinds of bad guys, but, also, the need to protect our Constitution and the values on which our country was founded.
Jane, I’m amazed at your powers of perception. Except for the bit of self delusion about you being a serious legislator.
BLITZER: You are also, in addition to being a serious legislator, you are also a good politician as well. How worried are you as a Democrat that this strategy that the Bush administration, the Republican leadership unfolding now two months before these midterm elections is actually going to work as it did in 2004 and back in 2002, that the American public will say, you know what? We may not like his policies on Iraq, we may not like some of his domestic economic policies, but for five years this president has kept us safe from another 9/11.
HARMAN: I think that the American people won't buy this. …
But the issue of Iraq, the issue of the dangers in Iran, North Korea is very much on the mind of voters…the president is not going to be able to change the subject.
Seems to me that you have a hard sell there, Ms. Serious Legislator. You have to convince the American public, a public which watches criminals released on technicalities every week on the various iterations and permutations of Law and Order and which believes in huge percentages that lots of criminals get off scot free because of minor violations of their rights, that you aren’t coddling terrorists when you delay legislation to bring them to trial in order to give them more rights.
It also seems to me that Wolf has it right that most Americans give Bush credit for there having been no attacks on the US since 9/11. From what I’ve seen in the past week, I don’t think the President wants to change the subject.
In fact, I think the only thing you should fear more than no terrorist attack on the US between now and election day is a terrorist attack on the US.