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12/30/05

Watergate Law Disputes Bush's Claims

This is not complicated law. Two days before the Watergate break-in in 1972, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in the Keith case that, "The freedoms of the Fourth Amendment cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances are conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch without the detached judgment of a neutral magistrate."

The Nixon administration argument rejected in Keith was quite similar to the Bush argument: that a threat to national security existed (in this case, posed by the White Panther party) and vague language in a crime control statute (since superseded by FISA) gave the President the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance.

(Justice Rehnquist did not participate in the case because he had been part of the Nixon team crafting the rejected argument.) Keith does not deal with foreign threats, but the fact that a foreign threat may require domestic surveillance is exactly why FISA was enacted.

There is no way, with that court decision, and with FISA, that anyone with half a brain can believe GW Bush did not abuse his power and break the law with these wiretaps.

Things That Just Piss Me Off

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