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Monday, December 19, 2005

President Bush: Illegal Spying "A Vital Tool"
In case you haven't heard, Bush is in hot water -- which is about to reach a full boil -- for ordering the National Security Administration to spy on Americans without court-approved warrants. Get the whole story here.

Bush calls this practice "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists." Then he blabs about 9/11, and provides more fodder for Satuday Night Live. You know, the whole "Bush changes every subject back to 9/11" thing. That's all well and good, and of course we all want to prevent another terrorist attack.

There's one little problem, though. According to the Constitution, you can't violate the civil rights of Americans without getting a court warrant. In other words, there are Constitutional limits to searches or intelligence-gathering. That applies even if you're the president. If you fail to adhere to those limits, it's called, uh, breaking the law.

And yet, Bush tells us again and again that he's only protecting us from evil terrorists. And when asked about violating the law, he insists that the spying is consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution.

That's when it gets interesting. Yesterday on Meet The Press, Tim Russert had old Condie on the show. He asked her point-blank to reveal the laws or statutes that gave the president permission to circumvent the law.

Not surprisingly, Condie dodged the question. Not like sort of dodged, but flat-out embarrassingly I-can't-answer-the-question-so-I'll-change-the-subject kind of dodge.

But Tim asked her again. He said, "The law is very clear that a person is guilty of a criminal offense unless they get a court order before seeking to wiretap an American citizen. Why did the president not get a court order?"

And again she tried to weasel her way out of an answer. She said, "The president has drawn on additional authorities that he has under the Constitution and under other statutes."

Tim asks her a THIRD time, "What are the other authorities?" At this point, it's starting to get a bit uncomfortable.

Condie says, "I'm not a lawyer, but the president has Constitutional authority and statutory authority."

Then Tim brought up Nixon and his wiretapping shenanigans, and pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled that he had violated the Constitution.

Condie responds that we're talking about eavesdropping on terrorists hiding out in the U.S., not ordinary Americans.

Which is fine, but it does beg the question: THEN WHY NOT GET THE COCKADOODY COURT WARRANT? This is a question that the administration simply can't or won't answer.

Things that make you go hmmm...

Now, it will not surprise you to hear that Condie is not my favorite person. But I almost (not quite) felt sorry for her. I mean, she knows the Bush administration is about to be in a heap of trouble. And she knows that she, too, will be in a heap of trouble because when this whole practice started, she was National Security Adviser. And yet she's tossed out there on the talk shows to say again and again, "well, I'm not a lawyer but...[insert yammering that has nothing to do with the question here]" It's sad, really.

But it's also oddly enjoyable. Bush has simply gotten away with too much deception, lying and tomfoolery, and it's high time someone hold him accountable. Especially since it appears that he committed a crime. And this time, it's not just the Dems who are after him. There are plenty of Republicans who think he broke the law too, and they want some answers.

You will all be shocked to learn that Bush has "no regrets."

If you didn't catch Meet The Press yesterday, you've got to see it. And lucky for you, MSNBC streams the show on their web site. And while we're on the subject of MTP, I'd like to point out that Tim Russert is the bomb diggity.
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posted by Kate at 12/19/2005 10:21:00 AM


Blogger Kate said...

Bush is on the telly right now giving a speech about this whole thing. He just referenced Article 2 as the justification for the spying.

Article 2 says, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Here's the full text.

That doesn't answer the question at all. The president's power isn't absolute, and it isn't unlimited. The president is still subject to other laws. And if there's a law saying he needs to go to a FISA court, which there is, then why didn't he do that?

He says he circumvented the court because he needs to "move quickly." And then as justification, he again references Article 2. This is circular reasoning, and more to the point, it doesn't pass the sniff test.

You can't bypass the laws just because you're president. You just can't.

12/19/2005 10:55:00 AM  

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