More Calvinball in the Senate

It’s all right with Sen. Frist if the Senate Intelligence Committee is bipartisan unless bipartisanship might threaten to expose White House wrongdoing.

Bill Frist just keeps right on making up the rules as he goes along.

The Senate Intelligence Committee was designed on a bipartisan basis: equal numbers of members from the majority and the minority, subpoena power for the Vice-Chair (i.e., the ranking minority member), and a rule that all staff briefings have to be open to both parties. (Rules here.) The idea was to separate intelligence oversight from the routine partisan pulling and hauling of the Senate.

Now that some of the Republicans committee are threatening to vote with all the Democrats to have the Committee do its obvious duty by investigating the warrantless-wiretap program, Frist is threatening to change the rules.

Kevin Drum has the perfect summary of Frist’s position:

I think the Senate Intelligence Committee should be bipartisan unless being bipartisan happens to harm my party’s interests.

Here’s an even shorter summary:

The Republicans running Washington these days lie, cheat, and steal.

Glenn Greenwald has been all over this.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com