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John Dean Blasts Warrantless Eavesdropping at Judiciary Committee Debate on Censure

by Pamela Leavey

John Dean did not mince his words today at the Senate Judiciary Committee debate on Feingold’s censure resolution.

John W. Dean, Richard Nixon’s White House lawyer, told senators Friday that President Bush’s domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss.

Bush, Dean told the Senate Judiciary Committee, should be censured and possibly impeached.

“Had the Senate or House, or both, censured or somehow warned Richard Nixon, the tragedy of Watergate might have been prevented,” Dean said. “Hopefully the Senate will not sit by while even more serious abuses unfold before it.”

Republican’s on the commitee “rejected the comparison between Watergate and Bush’s wiretapping program,” and called Feingold’s censure resolution “posturing in a year of midterm elections.”

In his 2004 book, “Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush,” Dean noted “that the former Texas governor [Bush] began to evoke Nixonian memories with his strategies against Republican John McCain’s primary challenge in South Carolina in 2000.

After The New York Times revealed the NSA program in December, Dean wrote that “Bush may have outdone Nixon” and may be worthy of impeachment.

“Nixon’s illegal surveillance was limited; Bush’s, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope,” Dean wrote in a column for FindLaw.com in December.

Dean also said today that “the issue is one of checks and balances, adding Congress should pass some measure serving a warning to Bush if it can’t stomach a censure resolution.”

“The president needs to be reminded that separation of powers does not mean an isolation of powers,” he said.

The WaPo reports as a result of the Judiciary Committee hearing, “Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the panel’s senior Democrat, said he was “inclined to believe” that censure by Congress is appropriate for Bush.”

We know the president broke the law,” Leahy said. “Now we need to know why.”

John Dean hinted at a new book he has due out this summer, “Conservatives Without Conscience,” Dean said with a smile.

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