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Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

Can someone please tell me why conservatives like JTTR, Delathought, Hube, and the rest of Rhodey braintrust don't seem to get this?

Is Bush turning America into an elective dictatorship?
By Jacob Weisberg

It's tempting to dismiss the debate about the National Security Agency spying on Americans as a technical conflict about procedural rights. President Bush believes he has the legal authority to order electronic snooping without asking anyone's permission. Civil libertarians and privacy-fretters think Bush needs a warrant from the special court created to authorize wiretapping in cases of national security. But in practice, the so-called FISA court that issues such warrants functions as a virtual rubber stamp for the executive branch anyhow, so what's the great difference in the end?

Would that so little were at stake. In fact, the Senate hearings on NSA domestic espionage set to begin next month will confront fundamental questions about the balance of power within our system. Even if one assumes that every unknown instance of warrant-less spying by the NSA were justified on security grounds, the arguments issuing from the White House threaten the concept of checks and balances as it has been understood in America for the last 218 years. Simply put, Bush and his lawyers contend that the president's national security powers are unlimited. And since the war on terror is currently scheduled to run indefinitely, the executive supremacy they're asserting won't be a temporary condition.
- via Slate


UPDATE: From the New York Times

Judge Samuel Alito Jr., whose entire history suggests that he holds extreme views about the expansive powers of the presidency and the limited role of Congress, will almost certainly be a Supreme Court justice soon. His elevation will come courtesy of a president whose grandiose vision of his own powers threatens to undermine the nation's basic philosophy of government -- and a Senate that seems eager to cooperate by rolling over and playing dead.

It is hard to imagine a moment when it would be more appropriate for senators to fight for a principle. Even a losing battle would draw the public's attention to the import of this nomination.

Comments:
If the NSA program is such a bad thing, why hasn't anyone in Congress asked them to stop? And why didn't any of them raise concerns publicly when they were first told?

Yes, I believe the President should have wide latitude when there are people trying to attack us.

I think it is a shame that these hearings are in the Judiciary committee in the open, and not in the Intelligence committee, where they belong, behind closed doors. All we're going to get now is the Alito hearings x10, with people like Schumer and Biden demonstrating their love of their own voices.

Also, although the war on terror should continue indefinitely, the powers you say Bush is assuming are being assumed for the Presidency, not for Bush himself. There will be a new President in 3 years. So it will be Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Warner or Hillary or whomever in that chair with those powers.
 
without treading too far into conspiracy land: Surely you jest!!!
Congress DEMS did object but were constrined by law from going with the info even to their fellow congressioners.

Bushies intend to control the executive branch ad infinitum, NO?
 
If the NSA program is such a bad thing, why hasn't anyone in Congress asked them to stop?

If by "NSA program" you mean "warrantless domestic wiretaps," then yes, many members of Congress have condemned this practice and asked them to seek warrants instead.

And why didn't any of them raise concerns publicly when they were first told?

Sworn to secrecy, remember?
 
why didn't any of them raise concerns publicly when they were first told?

A few member of congress were given partial information, and they DID raise concerns (with the president, not the press) with the little bit of info they did get.

the powers you say Bush is assuming are being assumed for the Presidency, not for Bush himself.

That is the problem. What if the next person is not like Bush? What if Hilary is not immune from the corruption that attends unlimited power in the same way you feel Bush is?

Given all of this executive power, what is to stop a future president from declaring a labor action such as a strike, or a civil protest, or gun ownership, or a blog a threat to national security?

I'm not saying Bush has plans to install himself as dictator, but if you follow his logic, there is nothing to stop him or future executives from doing so.

Doesn’t that seem un-American to you?
 
I believe the popular phrase is "slippery slope." While I usually don't subscribe to such thoughts, the President...ANY president, claiming almost unlimited powers in the name of national security is scary. That's why we have a Constitution that clearly prescribes a division of power between the branches of government. The question "what's next" haunts those of us concerned with civil liberties. "We cannot have an election as scheduled because it will threaten national security" is the ultimate fear. That is why we MUST have these hearings, and we MUST cling to our Constitution and the limits it provides.
 
I think the Alito nomination plays into this as well. Alito has clearly stated that he believes in the "unitary executive" theory and would vote to support the executive branch at the expense of the others.

I was against a filibuster until very recently.
 
One would have to wonder whether that "unitary executive" theory would work with a Democratic president.

What say you, Mr. Alito?
 
One would have to wonder whether that "unitary executive" theory would work with a Democratic president.

I do hope we get to answer that question one day. First we have to get a Democratic election victory past the Supreme Court.
 
Where is this idea coming from that the President is claiming unlimited powers? He is just employing a tactic used by at least the last four Presidents to try and prevent terrorists from attacking Americans. And his excuse, that the executive has broader powers during time of war, has been used successfully time and time again since Lincoln. What powers, other than warrantless surveillance, has he assumed that are threatening the Constitutional checks and balances?
 
What powers, other than warrant less surveillance, has he assumed that are threatening the Constitutional checks and balances?

If you argue that the constitution can be superceded to allow the executive to conduct warrantless surveillance in the interest of national security you are also arguing that the president has the right to supercede the constitution whenever he wants to, provided it is in the interest of national security.

You may no think you are arguing for unchecked, unlimited executive power, but you are.
 
The expansion of the executive branch in a time of war is not new. Lincoln did it. FDR did it. Johnson did it. Nixon did it (and then some). Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton all did it. SO it's not new.

Let me put it in terms that you and your ilk would understand. It is "settled law." Not only that, but we have a lawsuit and congressional hearings that will determine, yet again, that it is "settled law."

The founders clearly put language in the Constitution that expressed their intent to have a strong executive, especially in time of war.

Where's the issue here?
 
Here is the issue:

Justice O'Conner wrote, "A state of war is not a blank check for the president."

Bush's expansion of executive power to allow the state to spy on citizens without cause, and jail citizens without trials overturns legal precedent reaching back to the Magna Carta.

He thinks he has a blank check, and in fact he does.

He has unlimited, unchecked power if people like you say he does. I'm not sure you are honestly thinking through the implications of giving this president and future presidents a blank check.
 
The founders clearly put language in the Constitution that expressed their intent to have a strong executive, especially in time of war.

Where? All I see is this:

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States..."

That's it.

And then there is this:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
 
against unreasonable searches and seizures

See below.

Bush's expansion of executive power to allow the state to spy on citizens without cause,

"Honey, Osama's on the phone!" That's not reasonable cause?

and jail citizens without trials overturns legal precedent reaching back to the Magna Carta.

I wonder if FDR ever got that memo.

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States..."

Exactly. Why didn't they give this power to Congress?
 
I think the problem we're seeing is also one of language. Democrats are calling these calls "domestic" even when they originate overseas. That is not a domestic call, it's an international one.

Secondly, where was the outrage at these warrantless wiretaps when Clinton and Gore were saying how necessary and vital they were?

Since when are Democrats in favor of constraining the power of government?
 
I feel we have come to the end of this. Many people are quoting Ben Franklin these days. The "Those who sacrifice liberty.." quote is all over the place.

My favorite Franklin quote is attributed to him at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation someone asked, "What sort of governmant do we have?"

To which he replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it"

When I hear otherwise clear thinking people like Dt make the kinds of arguments he is making here I think, "Well Mr. Franklin, 219 years was a pretty good run."
 
Interesting that you bring up that particular quote. The Left is having a field day using that quote, including at the AG's Georgetown University appearance, where a few misguided souls held up a banner that read, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither."

Except that the actual quote is, "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Not exactly the same, is it?

re-pub-lic: 2. A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.

Just because liberals haven't won a presidential election in 30 years doesn't mean they haven't been held regularly.
 
You ready to define "essential," delathought? Qualifying liberties...hehe...something conservatives LOVE to do.
 
No, I'm not. But apparently many on the left clearly already have.
 
No, you guys are defining it by claiming that freedom from unjust wiretaps aren't "essential." You're qualifying which actions aren't civil liberties and which are. Liberals are saying that yes, these wiretaps are a violation. You guys could care less.

PS...when you heading over to my site?
 
When you interrupt the Attorney General of the United States by holding up a banner with that abridged quote on it, it is you who are doing the defining.

It's not that we could care less. It's that we care very deeply that the American intelligence community should know what is being said when a suspected terrorist in another country talks with someone in America or vice versa, especially when programs of this nature have been held as constitutional by the Supreme Court on several occasions (Truong, US v. Bin Laden, etc.)

I don't see it as a violation of civil liberties the way it has been presented to the public. Now, if it has expanded to include US-to-US calls, or expanded to include eavesdropping on political enemies or subversive groups, then we'll talk.

Imagine you're the President. It is your responsibility to ensure that nothing like 9/11 ever happens again, in a country with a sieve for a border, and people all over the world, even here in the US, that want to kill Americans. Wouldn't you do everything even remotely in your power to stop it?

I've been to DWA many times. But I guess I'll have to start bringing my own unique brand of vigilante justice over there more often...
 
If I was the president, I would do everything WITHIN MY POWER to stop terrorist, but I would not expand my power beyond legal and constitutional grounds.

What slays me is this thought: if this story had broke with Clinton instead of Bush (Clinton, btw, only authorized PHYSICAL searches, not wiretaps, to the best of my knowledge), Conservative Republicans would be gathering up their guns to defend their rights against the strong central government they allegedly oppose. To hear the same people argue in favor of a strong federal government with an all-powerful executive is sad, if not laughably ironic.
 
Mike,

You nailed it. I have to think I would have joined them in their calls to fight against the un-American usurpation of power.

I would have assumed that this transcends party ID. I would have been wrong of course.
 
It is illogical to compare the two, pre 9/11 and post 9/11. And Clinton authorized unwarranted physical searches during peacetime. Think about what that means for a minute.

And you know if this had been a Democrat president, you all would be defending him to the bone. You can say you wouldn't, but you would.
 
Good thing I'm not a democrat. If that shit had been revealed, then THAT would have been a reason to impeach Clinton. The thing is, you conservatives were too busy patrolling his dick to give a shit about that stuff.

In fact I think most presidents throughout history have committed impeachible offenses. It's getting them at that moment that matters. We've got to get Bush now while the gettin's good!
 
No, probably not. I really have no problem criticizing my own party, bump comes to grind. I'm not real comfortable that Clinton had any similar powers either, but I was too young to know/care about it. Also, I think the larger concern is based on the justification Bush has used regarding this issue, including the rhetoric that seems to indicate that he has little respect for the limits of presidential power in the face of serious national security questions.
 
Geeks have been blogging about Echelon/NSA since 1998 at least. Nobody was listening.
 
I support the President's efforts in the war on terror.

All I want to know is: Why didn't they just get the freakin' warrants??? They have 72 hours after initiating the wiretaps under FISA. The only thing I can come up with is lack of evidence to get the warrant. Of course, if the calls are originating from outside the country then it doesn't matter anyway. I guess we'll have to wait and see what comes of the hearings.
 
The couldn't get a warrant, because they didn't know what they were looking for until they found it. They don't know who's going to call who until it happens.
 
I have to think I would have joined them in their calls to fight against the un-American usurpation of power.

the rhetoric that seems to indicate that he has little respect for the limits of presidential power in the face of serious national security questions.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the President claimed that the authorization for the program is inherent in the Congressional action following 9/11. If so, isn't he saying he got the power from Congress? If so, isn't that the opposite of a usurping of power, and instead, is an exact description of checks and balances?
 
I believe the President claimed that the authorization for the program is inherent in the Congressional action following 9/11.

Which Congressional action? The Iraq war resolution? The Patriot Act, or something else?

I don't think there was a specific Congressional action that allowed non-FISA domestic spying.

Daschle says no, Congress never implicitly or explicitly authorized warrantless domestic spying outside of FISA.

But Bush and his GOP supporters in Congress say sure, whatever we did authorized whatever the President did or will do in the future.
 
So there's a disagreement over whether or not Congress authorized it. But the President is saying they did, therefore it is not an assumption of executive power.
 
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