On May 9th, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) announced it could not pursue an investigation into the role of Justice lawyers in crafting the warrantless wiretapping program. In a letter to New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey –the most dogged Congressional advocate for investigation of the spying program –H. Marshall Jarrett, OPR’s Counsel, explained that he had closed Justice’s probe because his office’s requests for security clearances to conduct it had been denied.
“I am writing to inform you that we have been unable to make the meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program,” Jarrett explained in his reply to Hinchey. “Beginning in January 2006, this Office made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. On May 9, 2006, we were informed that our requests had been denied. Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation.”
Who denied the requests? Who obstructed justice?
It turns out –according to Bush’s very own Attorney General Alberto Gonzales- it was the President. Under sharp questioning this morning by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Specter, Gonzales said that Bush would not grant the access required to allow the probe to move forward.
Hinchey, and others like Representatives John Lewis, Henry Waxman and Lynn Woolsey, who originally requested the probe should demand that Gonzales and his Department reopen the investigation. And they should also demand that President Bush explain why he obstructed a vital probe.
As Hinchey said at the time the probe was blocked, “The Bush Administration cannot simply create a Big Brother program and then refuse to answer any questions on how it came about and what it entails. We are not asking for top secret information.” What becomes clearer with every revelation about this President’s lawlessness is that Bush’s arrogance and abuse of power must be checked.