Friday, April 07, 2006

A threat to the fabric of freedom

The Bush administration continues to play by its own set of rules, to the detriment of truth and liberty.

First we have the big news of the day, that Bush himself authorized Lewis Libby to discuss classified information with reporters.

As the Washington Post notes, this is legal by definition -- the President, after all, has the ultimate authority to declassify information -- but was "highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain."

This doesn't directly implicate Bush in the Plame case; he authorized discussion of a National Intelligence Estimate, not Plame's identity. But it does expose Bush's hypocrisy, since he complained about leaks of classified information while leaking such information himself. So his real position is that he should be the only one allowed to leak information. This is legally correct, but ethically it stinks.

But almost lost in the hubbub over the leak revelation is this little gem from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said.

Translation: there is no legal line that the administration will not cross on its own authority. Warrants? We don't need no stinkin' warrants. FISA? Nothing but a toothless scrap of paper.

Whatever you think of the administration, giving one branch of government the right to decide for itself whether its actions are legal is a really, really, really bad idea. The whole reason warrants exist is to protect citizens from the government. What Gonzales has just suggested is that such protection doesn't exist if the executive branch, on its own sole authority, decides it wants to eavesdrop on you.

I have no objection to wiretapping suspected terrorists; I want them caught and foiled just like everybody else. Just get a warrant first. If the evidence of terrorism involvement isn't strong enough to survive scrutiny by a court as compliant as FISA, then the wiretap is probably unjustified.

You know, Democrats may be a threat to my wallet (though given the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration, I don't know how anyone can make that case anymore). But they don't scare me. Republicans under Bush, on the other hand, are a threat to the fundamental fabric of freedom. Warrantless wiretaps. Pre-emptive war based on the thinnest of reasoning, followed by stunning incompetence in the occupation and here at home. Massive deficits. Politicizing science. Corruption. Shifting the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class. Unfunded mandates for the states. Band-aid solutions for big problems like health care. Ignoring AMT. The list goes on and on and on. Their carelessness and hubris is not just incredible; it's actively harmful.

Find a set of principles, Mr. President. Respect the law, Mr. President. Do your job, Mr. President.

And Congress, you do yours. Stand up for the country and actually serve as a check on the executive branch, rather than playing the patsy or accomplice.

You won't see me rant very often. But stuff like this makes my blood boil.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Matt Parker said...

"Find a set of principles, Mr. President. Respect the law, Mr. President. Do your job, Mr. President."

Feel free to send him a copy of the Credo.

And remind me not to boil your blood.

Peace,

Matt

4/07/2006 3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post!
One doesn't have to be a "Bush-hater" to recognize all that he has done wrong for this country. This was born under a bad sign--the day when nine people in black robes elected our president.
The Republican Congressional leadership had served us no better. I'm becoming one of those people who want to see Democrats elected just to change our state of affairs. Of course, this won't change the fact that the number of lobbyists in DC has doubled over the past six years, or the fact that it costs a million dollars to get elected. True democracy seems to be going down the tubes. Bill Moyers wrote a very good article on this recently called "A Culture of Corruption."
- Caracarn

4/07/2006 9:27 PM  

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