In a stunning (and so far underreported) abdication of responsibility and display of political arrogance, Bill Frist is threatening to undo a 30-year arrangement whereby the Senate Intelligence Committee is designed to operate in a bipartisan fashion.* It has to do with a vote that could come tomorrow on a motion to hold hearings on the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Frist wrote this letter
(pdf format) late Friday to Democratic leader Harry Reid expressing alarm at "repeated calls by Democrats on the committee to conduct politically-motivated investigations," and offered up this threat:
"If we are unable to reach agreement, I believe we must consider other options to improve the Committee's oversight capabilities, to include restructuring the Committee so that it is organized and operated like most Senate committees."
Translation: Lay off the White House on warrantless wiretapping (which many smart people on both sides of the political fence think is illegal), or else I'll rearrange some long-standing Senate rules to make sure the oversight role of the intelligence committee includes no intelligence committee oversight of warrantless intelligence gathering. (Attorney Glenn Greenwald has full details and analysis of Frist's latest case of chutzpah here
*corrected; original version of this post incorrectly referred to equal membership across parties.