[JURIST] Members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] sparred Friday at a hearing [agenda and statements] on a resolution [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] put forward by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) [official website] to censure President Bush for his approval of the National Security Agencys domestic wiretapping program [JURIST news archive]. Republican senators expressed dismay at the censure resolution, asserting that some Democrats simply want to score political points in an election year and condemning the censure resolution as a threat to national security. Feingold meanwhile continued to challenge Bushs actions [statement] declaring censure necessary for Congress to stand up for ourselves and the American people, [so] we [do not] become complicit in the lawbreaking. Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] insisted that Feingolds resolution lacked merit, but embraced the opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding the NSA wiretapping program in depth. Expert witness John Dean [Wikipedia backgrounder], a former White House lawyer for President Nixon involved in the Watergate coverup, spoke in favor of censure, suggesting that "Had the Senate or House, or both, censured or somehow warned Richard Nixon, the tragedy of Watergate might have been prevented."
The Judiciary Committee did not vote on the resolution on Friday, and likely will not vote on it at all. Sen. Feingold introduced [JURIST report] the censure resolution in early March, receiving only lukewarm reception [JURIST report] from fellow Democrats. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.