Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where is Democracy? Part 2

One of my first posts on this blog asked the question Rational Resistance: Has Democracy Outlived its Usefulness?

Now, a story in today's Los Angeles Times makes this point even more clearly than most of us could have imagined. It turns out that while they were spying on Americans, maybe you, maybe me, the Bush Administration was arguing against a proposal to give them expanded power to conduct surveillance, reasoning that the power they already had was all they really needed. Their comments at the time were telling:

"We have been aggressive in seeking FISA warrants, and thanks to Congress' passage of the [Patriot Act] we have been able to use our expanded FISA tools more effectively to combat terrorist activities," he said. "It may not be the case that the probable cause standard has caused any difficulties in our ability to seek FISA warrants we require."

They also said that they were not convinced that moving from a "probable cause" to a "reasonableness" standard would be constitutional.

Thus, as Pat Leahy points out, while they are now claiming that the FISA requirements are too burdensome for them to follow, just a couple of years ago they were saying exactly the opposite while violating FISA.

The Justice Department now admits that the reason they lied to Congress about this was that they wanted to avoid a public debate on it.

So I'll ask again: Where is our democracy? And who has stolen it?

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