Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rumblings on the homefront: Kansas newspaper slams Sen. Pat Roberts -- again

[updated & corrected 10:20 pm cst]

Take note Beltway Democrats who are too afraid to push Congress to censure King George: The folks out in RepublicanLand are not happy.

The Hutchinson News is keeping up its attacks of our state’s very own Sen. Pat Roberts. The newspaper charges that our state’s senior senator has shirked his responsibility to the citizens of Kansas and the nation. At issue is his refusal as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee to fully investigate the Bush administration’s domestic spying program.

Why is it significant when The Hutch News criticizes Roberts? Because Hutchinson is not known as a hotbed of liberalism. (Actually, there is only one hotbed of liberalism in Kansas, and that’s my own town of Lawrence, but I digress.)

With a population of about 40,800, located in a county with a grand total of 63,800 people, Hutchinson is best known as the home of the Kansas State Fair (and its animal birthing center and exotic animal petting zoo), the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center (which is actually pretty cool) and the soon-to-be-opened Kansas Underground Salt Museum. In the 2004 presidential election, only 33 percent of the county voted for Democrat John Kerry, while 65 percent supported Bush.

In today’s editorial “Loyalty to the President,” the newspaper charges once again that Roberts seems to believe that his only mission as a senator is to protect King George’s administration.

Pat Roberts made it clear again last week that he puts loyalty to the Bush administration ahead of everything else, even his responsibilities as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Instead of beginning a probe of President George W. Bush's domestic spying program, as critics demanded, Roberts announced that he'd reached "an acommodation" with the White House - creation of a subcommittee to monitor the
operation, just as the Bush administration wanted.

No messy public hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee. No need to specify how many e-mails and phone calls the government monitored without court
authorization. No need to identify which U.S. citizens the National Security Agency watched and why.

Just business as usual, except that seven of the Intelligence Committee's 15 members now receive regular briefings from the White House.

Two committee Republicans, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, made life miserable for Roberts when they threatened to side with Democrats last month and vote to investigate Bush's domestic spying operation. Needless to say, Chairman Roberts left them both off the oversight subcommittee.

No need taking chances, after all. Roberts wants to stop an investigation, not start one.

Once again, he succeeded.

In July 2004, the committee issued its blistering report on prewar Iraqi intelligence.
But to protect the president, Roberts delayed phase two of the report until after the November elections.

Phase two explores political manipulation of the flawed prewar intelligence. Despite
repeated promises by Roberts to complete it quickly, the investigation remains unfinished. Roberts issued a news release last week to announce his deal with the White House.

"It has always been my desire as chairman to uphold and preserve the nonpartisan
tradition of the Intelligence Committee," Roberts said.

Roberts put Bush's re-election ahead of an informed electorate when he delayed phase two of the pre-war intelligence report. He placed loyalty to the Bush administration ahead of Americans' civil liberties when he foiled an investigation of domestic spying.

To Pat Roberts, the Senate Intelligence Committee exists for one reason - to validate the policies of President George W. Bush.

This criticism is coming from the heart of the Land of the Republican, my very own reddest of red states.

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