Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Does the Congress dare act as though the law means what it says?

The White House, with the aid of its ever-compliant former lawyer, John Yoo, claims that the president has the inherent power to do anything it wants, with no other agency of government having any authority or power to stop it.

Perhaps they're overlooking the terms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which specifically says:

50 U.S.C.A. § 1809

>>§ 1809. Criminal sanctions
(a) Prohibited activities

A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally--

(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or
(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.



You'll note that there is nothing in there that exempts the president.


Are they also overlooking this important principle of the U.S. Constitution:

U.S. Constitution
Article II, Section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.


Does Congress remember that that provision is there?

And one more question: since Bush claims to have unlimited power, if he were impeached and convicted, would he leave office?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush and his advisors make some interesting contentions regarding the eavesdropping issue.

First, they contend that it is within the authority granted to Bush through the initial resolution giving him the power to invade Iraq. It seems that this resolution is worded broadly enough to allow him to do almost anything. Do you agree? That would mean an intolerable and unconscionable abdication by Congress of its own responsibility, but it would provide cover for Bush.

Second, they contend that the eavesdropping program includes controls that protect the civil liberties of Americans. Aren't the controls in the 1978 law the very controls that are being bypassed in this program? For example, judicial review appears to be completely absent, and congressional review is virtually absent, as the information given to Congress (according to the complaints first expressed over two years ago by at least one member of congress) is wholly inadequate and far from sufficient to be considered oversight.

[It is also interesting to see many liberals in the media complaining that the administration is not complying with the 1978 law. It's true that working outside of that law could at least in a formal sense be worse than complying with it, but it also seems that the law allows the government to conduct the kind of surveillance that is not generally consistent with a free society. This is similar to the Plame affair; it's reasonable to be outraged that the President's henchmen would purposely out a CIA employee for political purposes, but the law that may have been broken also represents one step further away from, not closer to, a free society.]

There is another problematic issue regarding the whole eavesdropping controversy. The NY Times knew about this program for quite some time before publishing a story about it. Why put the story out now? Is the Times injecting itself into the political process by kicking the President when he's down? That hardly seems appropriate.

December 20, 2005 9:55 AM  
Blogger Sausy Blue said...

My first question:

If Clinton was impeached for lying to the American Public about oral sex, why hasn't Bush been impeached for lying to the American public and congress about to much activity that is already illegal?

Second, the anonymous poster talks about the resolution to invade Iraq giving the President power to do anything and that the resolution gives him cover. In section 3.a of the joint resolution it says

"The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."

I would argue that this does not give him the right to do whatever he wants, nor the cover to back him. What he has done, while he could argue it to be necessary, is not appropriate. The Government already has a secret court to obtain permission for survailance of a sensative nature, would it really be so difficult to run these survailances past them?

And I do agree with this poster, the 1978 law may not be completely parallel to a free society, but their has to be a balance between freedom and safety. That is what government is based on, the people giving up a certain amount of freedom in return for protection and order. Otherwise it is anarcy, which for my generation seems to be a popular concept, but it would be truely ridiculous in practise.

As far as the NYTimes, I'm getting more and more annoyed with them every time I turn around. Judith Miller was allowed to strut all around that paper spreading her little lies that helped get us in big trouble, and now we find out they've been sitting on a story like this for a year? They claim they didn't publish because they were finding more evidence, not because they were heeding the President, but I don't know if I can truely believe them. My trust for them is shrinking fast. (Though I did have a little internal chuckle hearing the President wag his finger at them for 'aiding the enemy' by publishing a story about how they've been spying on their own citizens...calling college protests "Threats". Then NPR starts speculating that they held the story to keep their access. That's not journalism...that's bullshit.)

December 20, 2005 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous poster again:

Sausy Blue says:
"What he has done, while he could argue it to be necessary, is not appropriate."

The tricky part of it is, "appropriate" is not a particularly specific legal term, and the resolution authorizes the prez to do what HE determines to be appropriate. Unfortunately, while you and I agree that what he did and continues to do is anything but appropriate, it appears that he has somehow determined it to be wholly appropriate. The legal standard in the statute is his determination, not ours. Somebody e-mailed CNN today and said that it was obvious that we should trust the government. I think, on the other hand, that it's obvious that we should not put our faith in people who have deceived us so many times. If only Congress had gotten that spine implant a few years earlier...

December 20, 2005 2:04 PM  

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