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Impeach Bush

Is it finally starting?
“President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

When the New York Times published its report, President Bush immediately went on the offensive declaring “it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war.”

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done, and I am Caesar."

Not Caesar or Shakespeare, but the words ring true.


At 12:03 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

Read more about it.

Un-warrented domestic electronic surveillance is at least 5 presidents old.

With Fitzmas a bust, wet-dreams of Bush impeachment should be held back with reserve.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

It was bad when Clinton did it (ask a man who voted for Ralph Nader!) but this is lousier.

The reasons he needs oversight are
1. Someone with a credible reputation in matters of war (that is, not Bush, Rumsfeld, or Cheney) could stand up for it being an effective program, and

2. It has to have codified limits. How different are things now then they were when the FBI sent Martin Luther King notice to kill himself or his wife would hear the conversations he had with other women?

For Bush to say "I don't follow the law, the law follows me" and continue this program is a horrible violence to the country he claims to defend.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

My point isn't that it's good, but that it isn't new. If Bush were impeached for something past presidents have done without punishment, then rule of law would go straight out the window.

I would love to make a law that says all domestic surveillance requires court approval before or very shortly after the use. FISA allows for a 72 window, right? The "urgent need" argument doesn't fly.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

You would want that law? The NSA (by law) isn't allowed to interfere in domestic issues. The law actually does state that the President can issue wiretapping orders without a court, but:

1) The attorney general must sign off on it.
2) The person being wiretapped must not be a US citizen
3) The only communications that can be tapped are those with foriegn powers.

If any "US person" is involved, it requires FISA judicial oversight. You are right, in that warrants can be issued retroactively up to 72 hours after tapping begins. BUT, this must be done by the *FBI*. The fact that the NSA was ordered by the president to spy on US citizens is a gross violation of the law. I do not know of any President that has done the same. I don't disagree that other Presidents have done it, but they most certainly only used the FBI. If the NSA was ever involved, I would have expected them to be impeached just the same way that Bush should be now.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger oded said...

Interesting update in the NY Times today:

The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps has approved at least 18,740 applications for electronic surveillance or physical searches from five presidential administrations since 1979.

The judges modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications that were approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation. In 20 of the first 21 annual reports on the court's activities up to 1999, the Justice Department told Congress that "no orders were entered (by the FISA court) which modified or denied the requested authority" submitted by the government.

But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004 -- the most recent years for which public records are available.

Your historical argument just sprung a leak.

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