Friday, August 18, 2006

Okay, So it's official: Mr. President, you are breaking the law

The following transcript from "The Cafferty File" which airs on CNN says it better than I can.

Cafferty: You know Wolf, it seems like were having this discussion about this judge's ruling sort of in the abstract, as if there's no precedent for what the judge decided. The judge in effect upheld the ruling of the FISA court which says that if you want to wiretap phones you need a warrant to do so. The court was created by Congress in 1978 I think it was and the law of the land says, "Get a warrant". The actions of the administration have ignored the law of the land in that regard. So it's not a discussion in the abstract. It's not hypothetical. There are laws on the books against what the administration is doing and it's about time someone said it out loud.

This Federal district judge ruled today President Bush is breaking the law by spying on people, in this country, without a warrant. The judge said the President is violating the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA, passed by Congress 1978, specifically to prevent this kind of abuse of power. It was being done before. That's why the FISA court was created in the first place.

So what does this mean? It means President Bush violated his oath of office, among other things, when he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. It means he's been lying to us about the program since it started, when tells us there's nothing illegal about what he's doing. A court has ruled it is illegal. And it means a 75 year old black female judge in Michigan has finally stepped in and done the job that Congress is supposed to do, namely oversight of the executive branch of government. But the Congress is controlled by Republicans. They are controlled by the President, and they have done nothing in the way of oversight.

Why does it take a 75 year old federal judge to have the sense and courage to finally do what Congress should have done when this story came to light? The fact that this presidency more than any in recent history has expanded it's powers legally (signing staillegally or illegaly is old news. What is not old news is that there seems to be growing disenchantment among the people of this country with this type of arrogant assumption of authority. These actions, while perhaps well intentioned and cloaked under the "If we don't do these things we can't protect you" line of national security speak, erode our Constitution. The judge has said the president's actions have violated the 1st and 4th amendments to the Constitution as well as violated the FISA law of 1978.

Conservative apologists for Bush have framed this as a "soft on terrorism" action by a democratically appointed federal judge (Judge Taylor was appointed to the bench by President Carter). It is most certainly not a "soft on terrorism" action. The judge has stated in her opinion that eavesdropping and wire-taps can be done as long as they comply with the stated law of the land and obtain a warrant. The FISA court has provisions that allow for warrantless wiretaps to be done as long as they obtain a warrant within 72 hours after the wiretap was established. There is no excuse for not complying with the court. Of the thousands of requests for warrants sent to this court over the last 25 years, only a few have been denied.

This action by President Bush and the NSA is an abuse of executive branch power. The action by Judge Taylor was correct and it speaks of what is best about this country: We are a country who respects the rule of law and everyone, even the president is required to act within the law.

Tell me what you think,


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