Newsweek has a very interesting story on Thomas M. Tamm, the former Justice Department lawyer who was a source for New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, who broke the warrantless wiretapping story three years ago yesterday.
The dimension of the story most interesting to me is the failure of congressional oversight to perform its role. Uneasy with what his Justice Department colleagues called ‘the program’ and assumed to be illegal, Tamm had contacted a friend of his who worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Sandra Wilkinson “shut down their conversation.”
Among derelictions of duty, this one stands out. It is the job of the legislative branch to oversee the executive. Sandra Wilkinson, her Judiciary Committee colleagues, and her boss (my cursory checking hasn’t revealed who that was) failed to pursue allegations of illegality in the Justice Department. They will live out their lives with the quiet infamy of gutlessness.
Thankfully, we have a watchdog press and a protective First Amendment. Otherwise, ‘the program’ might even now be metastisizing into a greater threat to our liberties. As it is, the rule of law in the United States has taken a hit, the Congress sickeningly ratified the illegal wiretapping program, and Americans have gotten a refresher course on why not to trust the government of the country they love.