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12/27/05

Bush says Following the Law is Inconvenient

The snippets I include below are from an LA Times Article. If you wish to read the whole article, click the title of this post.

By Richard B. Schmitt and David G. Savage, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — Since Sept. 11, 2001, an obscure but powerful tribunal — the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — has been a solid ally of the Bush administration, approving hundreds of requests allowing government agents to monitor the conversations and communications of suspected terrorists.

So why did the administration go around the court in devising its most secret surveillance program?

Top Bush administration officials said Monday that a controversial domestic eavesdropping program they ordered up after Sept. 11 without the court's permission reflected the "inefficiencies" of going to a judge and the need for a more "agile" approach to detecting and preventing terrorist attacks.


Inefficient? It's more efficient to break the law? If I consider it inefficient to get a driver's license, I'll still get a ticket for not having one. The law is the law and GWBush should not be above the law. The checks and balances requiring court approval are in place for a reason. No president can have absolute power to do as he pleases, not even during wartime. Absolute Power Corrupts, Absolutely.

But they also indicated that they had a more fundamental concern: the tougher legal standard that must be met to satisfy the court. The 1978 law creating the secret tribunal, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, authorizes intelligence gathering in cases in which the government can establish "probable cause" that the target is working for a "foreign power" or is involved in terrorism. Those judgments were made not by a court, as the law provides, but by shift supervisors at the National Security Agency.


Tougher Standard? Tough in that he needs actual "PROBABLE CAUSE"? Guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and a fundamental right of every US citizen, that the police must have probable cause before they can search you or your home, probable cause before they can tap your phones or your email. That President Bush calls the bill of rights an inconvenience or inefficient should alarm everyone.

The plan, which surfaced in media reports last week, has allowed the government to monitor, without warrants, hundreds of people in the U.S. communicating with people overseas.


Just reread that sentence one more time. Now, read it again. Are you ok with the government spying on AMERICAN CITIZENS without even getting a warrant?

In a news conference Monday, Bush asserted that as commander in chief, he could bypass the 1978 law, citing a broad claim of executive power that has not been upheld by the Supreme Court.

"Do I have the legal authority to do this? …. The answer is absolutely," Bush said. "The legal authority is derived from the Constitution…. As president and commander in chief, I have the constitutional responsibility and constitutional authority to protect our country."


He actually believes he has absolute power to do anything he wants, whether legal or not. Read his own words there. Don't take my word for it. Read his words and tell me he doesn't think he is in absolute power. Tell me he does not believe he can do anything he wants without the congress or supreme court interfering. Tell me this president believes in the Constitution he says gives him this power. He must have read a very small portion of the document.

Last year, the high court rejected, 8 to 1, Bush's claim that he had the power as commander in chief to hold and detain Americans without a hearing, even if they were captured on foreign battlefields fighting for the enemy.

"We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in the case of Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld. The Constitution "most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches [of government] when individual liberties are at stake," she said.


Not according to GW Bush. He thinks the constitution grants him absolute authority and the other branches of the government are just inconvenient to his role as supreme poobah.

In the fall of 2001, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee worked on the Patriot Act and debated giving the Bush administration more leeway to conduct surveillance on terrorism suspects. But the latest disclosures suggest that the administration didn't believe it needed permission and thought the president could go around the limits set by the law.


As always. Herr Bush believes the law to be beneath him, just like back in college where "He of the White Powdery Nose" held court.

by Chris McElroy
More things that just piss me off

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