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Proviso Probe

Monday, January 02, 2006

CRIME, Bush, the Constition, media elites & doing the right thing

In the past I’ve stayed focused on local issues on Proviso Probe. I intend to stay focused on things Proviso in the future. However, in this entry I will invoke personal privilege.

President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, has admitted to breaking the law and violating the Constitution. He knew the wiretapping scheme he approved needed to be approved by the FISA court or Congress to be legal. His advisors reckoned he couldn’t get approval, but he did it anyway.

If the President has the power to secretly overrule the Constitution based on his own authority, what makes the United States of America different from a banana republic dictatorship? Higher per capita GDP?

Bush kicked-off his perpetual war by saying they “hate us because they hate our freedom.” If the government can ignore the Bill of Rights based on the personal authority of the President, we don’t have freedom to hate. “Freedom” that originates from the noblesse oblige of the monarch isn’t freedom.

I agree with Atrios that our media elites have behaved disgracefully on this issue. They are treating this as a policy debate where people of good faith can see it both ways. The media elites—far too cozy with the business and political elites—lack the patriotism and integrity to risk the perks of being elite to make a stand for the essence of what it means to be American.

For those of you that support Bush, I ask you to step back from the situation and examine it anew.

If a president you didn’t support asserted that he had Bush’s power—power to ignore the courts and Congress—and could be using this power against his political opposition, would you consider this situation acceptable? Consistent with your understanding of the compact of the Constitution?

The President has to follow the Constitution. If he doesn’t follow the Constitution he needs to be held accountable. It’s the American way.

5 Comments:

  • You should have followed your intial reservations and spared us your sanctimony. When did he admit to breaking the law and violating the constitution? You know very well he said no such thing and it requires a special lack of integrity to make such a claim.

    By Blogger Roy, at 2:38 PM, January 03, 2006  

  • Roy, thanks for posting to Proviso Probe.

    Why does George W. Bush have any power as President of the United States? Legally, he derives his power from the Constitution, right?

    To the extent the President is empowered to do anything it comes from the Constitution.

    The authors of the Constitution were wary of vesting too much power will one person or institution. They created a system of checks and balances.

    For the President to derive power from the Constitution he had to get Congress to pass laws and appropriate money. The Supreme Court exists to arbitrate conflicts between Congress and the President and to check their excesses.

    Bush could have sought authority for his surveillance program from Congress. Since he was unlikely to get it, he declined. Bush could have sought permission—gotten a warrant—from the FISA court. Apparently he thought it was unlikely the court would grant such open-ended powers.

    Here’s the summary:
    Bush knew about the surveillance program.
    Bush knew he did not have the authority to conduct the surveillance from the courts or Congress.
    Bush granted himself the power to do that which he knew he was not authorized to do.

    Call me a nitpicking asshole, but I’m kinda partial to the following text:

    “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 probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    It’s the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

    Here’s some more text from the document described by George W. Bush as “just a piece of paper”.

    “Before he enter on the Execution of his Office he shall take the following Oath of Affirmation:--‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”

    If Bush is violating the Constitution, he should be held accountable, right?

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 3:58 PM, January 04, 2006  

  • Digby has an entry by Glenn Greenwald that addresses the illegality of Bush's conduct in detail.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 9:39 PM, January 04, 2006  

  • He did admit to misinfomation that led us to war in Iraq and has gotten our children kill there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:02 PM, January 06, 2006  

  • Carl, it is one thing to have your own talking points. It is quite another to deliberately misrepresent President Bush's position on the issue. You should take an example from the MSM, who have at least attempted to represent the issue honestly and in good faith.

    p.s. my code word for this comment is "nybohg"

    By Blogger Roy, at 1:33 PM, January 09, 2006  

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