In 2004 he was lauded as Man of the Year:
“Time magazine’s editors chose Bush as Person of the Year “for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes – and ours – on his faith in the power of leadership.” Time Magazine, December, 2004
Now Time Magazine asks:
Has Bush Gone Too Far?
By RICHARD LACAYO
January 1, 2006
Has Bush Gone Too Far?
Because they required the President to plainly bypass an act of Congress, the no-warrant wiretaps may be the sharpest expression yet of the Administration’s willingness to expand the scope of Executive power
When the NSA was established, in 1952, there were few legal limits on its power to spy within the U.S.
Then came the intelligence-gathering abuses of the Nixon years, when the NSA as well as the FBI were used by the White House to spy on civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activists. In 1978 Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (fisa), which required the NSA to obtain a warrant any time it sought to monitor communications within the U.S.
An explanation for the NSA’s reluctance to seek court approval may be that wiretaps of individual conversations are just one part of what the spy agency can do. It also has the technology to perform data mining, combing by computer through billions of phone calls and Internet messages and looking for patterns that may point to terrorist activity. That requires sifting through a mountain of individual communications to find the one that might lead to something. Under fisa, the NSA would have to obtain a warrant for each suspect phone number. Authorities argue that the fisa process is too slow to cover a situation in which a known terrorist calls a number in the U.S. not already covered by a fisa warrant.
Time, Has Bush Gone Too Far?; Jan. 1, 2006
THE PURSUIT OF WOT UNHINDERED BY CONSTITUTIONAL & MILITARY LAW
The NSA intercepts are just one instance of the Bush Administration’s effort to pursue the war on terrorism unhindered by some long-established legal norms. Most Americans agree that the government has to go after terrorists aggressively and with all appropriate means. Where they part company is on the question of what means are appropriate, at least if the goal is not only to deter another attack but also to protect both the freedom of Americans and the reputation of their country as one that takes ideas like decency and justice seriously. In the White House version of how that struggle must be conducted, it’s acceptable to hold captured suspects indefinitely without trial, hand them over for questioning to nations known to torture prisoners, define American citizens as enemy combatants who can be detained without charges, resist efforts by Congress to put limits on the rough interrogation of detainees and allow the CIA to establish secret prisons abroad. Any and all of those things may be necessary, but this is shaping up as the year when we take a long, hard look.
Time, Has Bush Gone Too Far?; Jan. 1, 2006
POWER WE DIDN’T GRANT – Tom Daschle
. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.
Tom Daschle; Power We Didn’t Grant; December 23, 2005
THE WHITE HOUSE CONTENDS SEPT 14 RESOLUTION COVERS IT ALL
More broadly, the White House says Congress implicitly gave Bush the power to approve the no-warrant wiretaps in a resolution it passed on Sept. 14, 2001. That measure authorized the President to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” involved in the 9/11 attacks. Tom Daschle, then the Senate Democratic majority leader, says the Administration knows it did not have that implicit authority because White House officials had sought unsuccessfully to get congressional leaders to include explicit language approving no-warrant wiretaps in the resolution.
Attorney General Gonzales says the Administration decided to go forward with the program anyway because it was convinced that the President possessed the inherent power to act.
Time, Has Bush Gone Too Far?; Jan. 1, 2006
FOR “DOUBTFUL LEGAL STRATEGIES”: READ CRIMINAL
“We have the remarkable spectacle of a wartime President who, by a series of doubtful legal strategies, has squandered his credibility in the federal courts,” says Eugene Fidell, a Washington lawyer who heads the National Institute of Military Justice. “The judges are in as grumpy a mood as I can remember.” There will be more trouble to come.
There will be a lot of constitutional issues under discussion in weeks to come because the war on terrorism has the potential to embed itself deeply into our legal norms. Conventional wars, against nation-states that can be plainly identified and defeated, have a clear aim in sight. The fight against endlessly shape-shifting terrorist groups is more open-ended. So when we talk about trade-offs between freedom and security, it’s a mistake to assume they will be short-term adjustments. The emergency powers that we agree to now may well become the American way for years. We may still agree to them, but it’s essential to know exactly what costs they come with.”
Time, Has Bush Gone Too Far?; Jan.1, 2006.
ILLEGAL PROGRAM: IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE
US Rep. JOHN LEWIS
“In my opinion, the President has violated the law, and the House and Senate must pursue their inquiries into this illegal program….”
“George W. Bush is the president. He is not a king. He is not above the law,” states U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in a release last week. “I look forward to further inquiry in the House and Senate on these matters. The American people deserve the truth. We must gather the facts and determine once and for all whether the law was violated. There is no question that the U. S. Congress has impeached presidents for lesser offenses.”
Lewis continues, “This executive order takes us back to the dark past when our government spied on civil rights leaders and Vietnam War protestors. Without obtaining the judicial authorization required to wiretap American citizens, the American people have no protection against the misuse of this program for illegal or vindictive means.”
Lewis on Impeachable Offense
“Bush is the first President to admit to an impeachable offense.”.
(John Dean in answer to Barbara Boxer on the subject of impeachment)
George W. Bush as the New Richard M. Nixon: Both Wiretapped Illegally, and Impeachably;
Both Claimed That a President May Violate Congress’ Laws to Protect National Security
By JOHN W. DEAN; Findlaw, Dec. 30, 2005
There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.
These parallel violations underscore the continuing, disturbing parallels between this Administration and the Nixon Administration. (See also: Ignore Nixon at Your Peril John Dean letter to Karl Rove; Friday, May. 10, 2002; Findlaw;
…Bush has ordered a criminal investigation into the source of the leak. (at the NYT) Such a criminal investigation is rather ironic – for the leak’s effect was to reveal Bush’s own offense. Having been ferreted out as a criminal, Bush now will try to ferret out the leakers who revealed him.
NOW FOR THE SCARY PART
Virtually all the things Nixon did against me that were illegal to keep me from exposing his secret policy are now legal under the Patriot Act. Going into my doctor’s office to get information to blackmail me with, wiretaps without warrants, overhearing me–all legal now. The CIA supplied the burglars in my doctor’s office with disguises and with cameras and they did a psychological profile on me. That was illegal then, legal now.
NIXON: WHEN THE PRESIDENT ORDERS IT, IT’S LEGAL
Nixon, the David Frost Interview; May 19, 1977
NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.
FROST: By definition.
NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president’s decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law.
Otherwise they’re in an impossible position.
…NIXON: Well, what I, at root I had in mind I think was perhaps much better stated by Lincoln during the War between the States. Lincoln said, and I think I can remember the quote almost exactly, he said, “Actions which otherwise would be unconstitutional, could become lawful if undertaken for the purpose of preserving the Constitution and the Nation.”Nixon, the David Frost Interview
SHADOWS OF NIXON
This is from a 1997 oped in the Houston Chronicle by Richard Ben-Viniste, written on the 25th anniversary of Watergate.
Houston Chronicle, 1997
This is just a partial list of crimes by RMN. :
the break-in at a psychiatrist’s office looking for information that could be used to smear Daniel Ellsberg, who had exposed the secret government history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers; the misuse of the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies to punish those on the president’s “enemies list”; the illegal wiretapping of journalists and members of Nixon’s own administration; the deliberate falsification of government documents to enhance Nixon’s political agenda; the proposed fire-bombing of the Brookings Institution as a diversion for the theft of records; the surreptitious surveillance of political opponents; and the willingness to use thugs to brutalize political protesters. Shadows of Nixon
Why would anyone assume that Bush is a milder form of Nixon? Whereas RMN hired goons with Republican slush fund money, GWB instructed govt. employees in the Justice department to “make the illegal legal,” i.e. torture and the ‘plenary’ ‘unitary’ power of the Commander in Chief in the WOT and the US public paid for it.
CUT TO THE CHASE: THIS IS JOHN YOO’S WORLD, YOU’RE JUST LIVING IN IT
“What the administration is trying to do is create a new legal regime,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo March, 2002
The current case against the NYT who reported the story after sitting on it for a year should prove interesting. The person who “leaked” was a whistleblower reporting illegal domestic spying. Those at the New York Times who succumbed to White House pressure to sit on the story for a year have now figured it out: freedom of the press is a better safeguard for Democracy, and a better guardian of the Constitution than breaking the law in a war against an undetermined enemy.
Congress did not grant this power to wiretap Americans, nor was it their understanding of AUMF. It was Bush’s league of lawyers who came up with this. Primarily John Yoo, architect of the legality of torture… and the “plenary” power of the Commander In Chief. Bush’s War On Terror has no definition, no boundaries, and no foreseeable end. George Bush entered the US into an era of perpetual war. Bush, via Yoo et al, is claiming that whatever a president does during wartime is legal and unquestionable. Because of conflict of interest Gonzales must appoint a special prosecutor. Once that process has begun, there is no stopping the momentum…
Planting phony stories, planting phony journalists, buying off journalists, and gagging the NYT, (along with the previous management of Newsweek in the Qu’ran desecration incident) are just the beginning.
It is a soldier’s duty to disobey an illegal order. So, in my thinking, all govt. employees who have refused and have reported on the illegal orders of the Commander in Chief, should be granted immunity against prosecution. The investigation into the NSA scandal, if properly handled, will reveal illegalities on a scale we cannot begin to fathom. Evidence procured illegally (torture, illegal wiretaps) is disallowed. Our inheritance from George Bush? THE CONSTITUTION IN CRISIS.
One can only hope that now is the time to deconstruct the Bush presidency, and reconstruct the office of the Executive and the powers of the Commander in Chief, to re-introduce Congress to itself and to the freedoms and protections to be found LEGALLY within the Constitution.
With thanks to Cedwyn’s Impeachment: It’s Not Just For Blowjobs Anymore