Yesterday, during CIA director-nominee General Michael V. Hayden's confirmation hearings, Senators, Republican and Democrat alike, were outraged that the White House withheld details of the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. And that's understandable. Nobody, especially Senators, appreciates it when important conversations are taking place and they haven't a clue what's going on.
Indicative of the mood at the hearing were the comments of Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine who "complained that the small number of lawmakers who were briefed before Wednesday were 'handcuffed' because they were not permitted to share information with colleagues."
It's a legitimate complaint, one that was echoed by her colleagues, but one that rings a bit hollow in light of what the Senate did on Thursday. The day before the Hayden Hearings, the Senate voted 63-to-34 to attach an amendment to proposed immigration legislation that would make English the "national language" of the United States.
In addition to providing that "The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America," the amendment also contains this little nugget of inclusiveness:
Unless otherwise authorized or provided by law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English. If exceptions are made, that does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language or any language other than English.
So much for keeping people informed and in the loop. 63 members of the Senate, including Senator Snowe, have apparently never heard of the golden rule: do not freeze out others unless you would like to be frozen yourselves.