Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bush spying

From Charles Lane:

President Bush and top administration officials said his authority derives from a congressional resolution and a Supreme Court decision, as well as the president's constitutional powers as commander in chief.

...The Supreme Court spoke at the height of the Korean War on the president's authority to override Congress. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman ordered a federal takeover of the steel industry to prevent a strike that would have disrupted the supply of weapons to troops at the front. He cited his authority as commander in chief.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the court rejected Truman's claim. In an influential concurring opinion, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote that the president's power is "at its lowest ebb" when he "takes measures incompatible with the expressed or implied will of Congress."

"With all its defects, delays and inconveniences, men have discovered no technique for long preserving free government except that the Executive be under the law, and that the law be made by parliamentary deliberations," Jackson wrote.

Former Congressman Bob Barr (a conservative with whom I sometimes agree) from a CNN transcript:

BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it's okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.

The fact of the matter is the law prohibits -- specifically prohibits -- what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn't matter, I'm proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.

Astounding, indeed. But is each revelation of some violation of law or trust from this administration astounding? I mean, my ability to be astounded by this crook ended a long time ago - back during the first term - so I'm a bit jaded. Apparently, the media and the general citizenship are not so jaded as I.

Consider: This administration either cooked the intelligence on Iraq or it turned a blind eye to opposing points of view. This administration, through it's own words, continues to confuse the Iraq War with the so-called War on Terrorism. This administration has attempted to brand opponents as "unpatriotic" when the heart gets turned up on the poll numbers. This administration revealed the identity of an active covert CIA agent. This administration consistently upgraded the terror alert status of the country prior to last year's election when ever it's poll numbers flagged. This administration hired and supported a political flack for FEMA (it's one thing to put someone incompetent in the role and something quite different to continue supporting that appointee when the evidence is overwhelming that he is incompetent). This administration has nominated 3 people to the Supreme Court who are more interested in maintaining Executive Branch and corporate power than they are about maintaining Constitutional checks and balances (in fact, I bet Harriet Miers had a hand in Bush's legal advice on spying on Americans). This administration has aggressively sought to extend Executive Branch authority without Congressional or Judicial oversight. This administration says it supports democracy in the Middle East, then it plants propaganda written by contractors working for the Pentagon. In fact, this administration plants stories on U.S. television stations and in U.S. newspapers touting it's domestic policies. This administration repeatedly claims in the Plame case that it cannot discuss on-going legal investigations, but then turns around and states that it thinks Tom Delay is innocent.

And, whenever someone in this administration gets caught, s/he blames someone else. The latest we're hearing from the President himself is that he asked his lawyers for advice. He's going to run with that excuse. He'll claim that it's his lawyer's fault and that he got bad advice. He's already laying the ground work for that excuse. This is the guy who, while running in 2000, claimed he was the type of man who took responsibility for his actions and those of the people who work for him. He said that on the campaign trail, but his actions and words since then have portrayed a different person. So, I expect to hear him say that he got bad legal advice. He will not note, however, his own responsibility in accepting the mistakes of his administration.

Hopefully the public will not stand for this latest revelation of breaking the law. Hopefully, even members of the Republican party, will realize that it cannot abdicate the Constitutional authority to provide a balance against Executive branch tyranny.

I doubt it and, as Bob Barr noted, that's "astounding".

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