It's My Party and I'll Spy if I Want To
By Glen McAdoo
December 26, 2005
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government
talking about wiretap, it requires - a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing
has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists,
we're talking about getting a court order before we do so"- George W. Bush
April 20, 2004.
At the very time of that statement, George W. Bush was personally overseeing wiretaps without any court orders.
For all of you who still claim this president doesn't lie, this must come as a shock. For the rest of us it just comes as another "we told you so." He admitted as much the other day when he vowed to continue the practice of spying on American citizens whom he suspects may have ties to Al Qaeda.
The problem is, who is deciding just what amounts to "ties to Al Qaeda?" Not the courts. George W. Bush is above the law. He and he alone will decide. Okay, he may consult with a crony or two. As Richard Nixon once said, "if the president does it, it can't be illegal." Right, George?
How times have changed. With a few exceptions, the most outspoken Republicans who were screaming for the head of Bill Clinton for lying about an extra-marital encounter, claiming no one was above the law, are singing a different tune now that it's their guy who seems to believe he is above the law.
This is the president who assured Americans that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda, the same one who assured us that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and told America that Saddam Hussein was attempting to get nuclear material from Niger. He was wrong then. He may have lied then.
Are you sure those Americans he is spying on have ties to Al Qaeda? I'm not. That just might explain the secret nature of this spying. After all it is this administration that has the FBI spying on Greenpeace and PETA. Darn tree hugging and animal loving subversives!
It makes no sense. President Bush can easily get court approval to allow the National Security Agency to spy on suspected terrorists collaborators. In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a secret court. One of its judges has now resigned, apparently in protest of President Bush's actions. Since its establishment it has granted more than 19,000 requests for warrants, usually within hours, while denying only five. What is George W. Bush afraid of?
What about emergencies, you ask? We might need to act quickly, you say. In such a case the president can go ahead without a warrant so long as he gets approval of the court within 72 hours.
Again, the president's actions make no sense unless he is conducting spying activities that he has reason to believe the court would not allow. That is not only scary it is downright criminal.
The president's explanation continues to baffle most Americans. He claims that on numerous occasions congress was informed, as if that makes it alright. Eight members were briefed, but having been sworn to secrecy, they couldn't publicly object without breaking the law themselves and being subjected to criminal charges. This is not the congressional oversight required by law.
Laughable is his claim that it must be constitutional because he raised his hand and swore to uphold the Constitution. It is downright frightening that he thinks that his duties as president, as spelled out in the Constitution, allow him to Willy- Nilly disregard other provisions of the Constitution protecting civil liberties and personal freedoms that he believes might hinder him from conducting business as he sees fit.
Okay all you conservatives out there who have mistakenly claimed that all liberals want to take away your guns --try this on for size. President Bush's (hardly a liberal) interpretation of the Constitution would give him the power to disregard the Second Amendment, come into you home without a warrant, and take away your guns because he had intelligence that you might have ties to Al Qaeda. Oh, you don't have ties to Al Qaeda? Well shut my mouth, you mean the president's intelligence was faulty? Sorry, it's your word against his. Maybe you trust this president's intelligence, but I wouldn't if I were you. I don't.
Bob Barr, one of the most conservative Republican members of congress when he was on the hill, had this to say; "What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without a court order."
I'm sure most columnists and editors have, or will have, something to say about President Bush's spying on American citizens. They should. Now is the time for every American to stand up and be counted. Let the investigation begin and, if warranted, let the impeachment proceedings commence.