Friday, April 07, 2006

Domestic Imperialism

That the Emperor in Chief believes the presidency has unlimited powers has long been clear. Now, he isn't even pretending otherwise. Yesterday, he refused to apologize for illegally spying on Americans. Also yesterday, his Attorney General, Alberto "Betito" Gonzales, went before a House panel and hinted that the spying program, heretofor claimed to involve communications where one party was located abroad, could be justified when both parties were here in the US. Even Rep. "Tex" Sensenbrenner was appalled at Betito's testimony. From the NY Times:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested on Thursday for the first time that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Mr. Gonzales said when asked about that possibility at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The attorney general made his comments, which critics said reflected a broadened view of the president's authority, as President Bush offered another strong defense of his decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on international calls and e-mail messages to or from the United States.

..."Mr. Attorney General, how can we discharge our oversight responsibilities if every time we ask a pointed question, we're told that the answer is classified?" Mr. Sensenbrenner asked. "Congress has an inherent constitutional responsibility to do oversight. We are attempting to discharge those responsibilities."

..."You would look at precedent," [Gonzales] said. "What have previous commander in chiefs done?"

Answering his question, he cited Woodrow Wilson's authorizing the interception of all cables to and from Europe in World War I "based upon the Constitution and his inherent role as commander in chief."

Mr. Gonzales said he would use that legal framework to decide whether intercepting purely domestic communications without a warrant was legally permissible. He would not say whether such wiretapping has been conducted.

..."No one in Congress would deny the need to tap certain calls under court order," [Rep.Adam Schiff] added. "But if the administration believes it can tap purely domestic phone calls between Americans without court approval, there is no limit to executive power. This is contrary to settled law and the most basic constitutional principles of the separation of powers."
[Emphasis added]

The article makes clear that the Justice Department backed away from the AG's comments later, stating that those comments were not intended to indicate the existence or non-existence from any purely domestic program. It was another one of those non-denial denials that this regime has hauled out on regular occasions. Still, it is horrifying to think that any of our communications can now regularly monitored by the regime.

"We're at war" is the justification.

Excuse me?

We are not at war. Congress authorized the use of force as a last resort in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. That was not the formal declaration of war required under the Constitution. Just as importantly, that authorization was based on the lies spun by the regime, lies which are now becoming clearer and clearer. The authorization was obtained by fraud.

As much as I loathe all that Rep. Sensenbrenner has done in Congress to date, if he suddenly wakes up to what Bush and his minions have done to this nation and its Constitution, I will honor him for finally doing his duty as a representative and as an American.


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