Last month's dramatic testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has prompted renewed attention and focus on the administration's warrantless domestic spying efforts. Describing the shocking lengths that the White House went to in order to gain legal sanction for its surveillance program, Comey revealed that President Bush called then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's wife to seek permission for former chief of staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to visit a debilitated and hospitalized Ashcroft at his bedside. The White House orchestrated the hospital visit in March 2004, one day after a meeting between Vice President Dick Cheney and Comey in which Justice Department officials announced their staunch opposition to certifying the program. Cheney tried to skirt Comey's authority by seeking Ashcroft's approval, but Ashcroft demurred as well. The White House then reauthorized the spying program "without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," prompting at least eight top Justice officials to threaten their resignation. Bush finally backed down, altering the program in order to get the Justice Department's sign-off. The saga over the White House's trevails to get legal approval underscores the serious questions that surround the program -- questions that remain largely unresolved to this day.The more we learn about the Ashcroft/hospital saga, as well as the domestic spying program in general, the more outrageous it all becomes. We now know that it was Bush who phoned Ashcroft's wife for permission to visit her ailing husband, who at the time was no longer the man in charge, but no matter. So we now know it was Bush who initiated the attempt to circumvent the JD by swooping in on Ashcroft. We also know wiretapping / eavesdropping activity went on for several months without the JD's approval, meaning crimes were repeatedly and systematically committed at that time. We also now know Cheney blocked the promotion of a JD official who dared to raise questions about the legality of the surveillance program -- that combined with the threat of massive resignations within the JD and yet we're to believe there were no major disagreement's in the department about this program?
These guys are beyond running a sham government. Yes, they operate as if in a banana republic, but in such a country there would've likely been a coup by now.