May 11, 2006
OPR Drops NSA Probe That Wasn't
I'm sure this will inflame a lot of people who won't bother to read it closely, but it was a rather stupid idea to begin with:
The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers security clearance.
The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax Wednesday to Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York saying it was closing its inquiry because without clearance it could not examine department lawyers' role in the program.
What you might miss in a quick read (and perhaps what CNN is hoping you will do) is that this story has nothing to do with the legality of the NSA program itself.
No, OPR has a different charter entirely:
[Justice Department spokesman Brian] Roehrkasse noted the OPR's mission is not to investigate possible wrongdoing in other agencies, but to determine if Justice Department lawyers violated any ethical rules.
In short, this was a political jab, and the fact that my opportunistic former congressman Maurice Hinchey was right there with another clichéd soundbite simply confirms it.
"This administration thinks they can just violate any law they want, and they've created a culture of fear to try to get away with that. It's up to us to stand up to them," Hinchey said.
How annoying DoJ lawyers is an example of "standing up" against the evil forces of BushCo, Hinchey doesn't quite explain.