Sunday :: Dec 18, 2005

Cut To The Chase: Push The NSA Spying Issue To The Courts Now


by Steve


Bush, telling us tonight we're Number One

On the night that Bush tried to change the subject by giving a speech telling us that we are winning in Iraq, there continued to be more heat for him over his sanctioning of NSA spying. I believe that this NSA spying story will be a little more problematic for Bush than Toby believes it will, who asserts that I am being “led around by the nose” on the issue. This, of course, would make our friend Toby our latest entrant in the “Stupid Trolls” category, where his terrific insights on this and other matters would land him in the company of Cyber Sarge. Some of you have already reported that at least on ABC’s “This Week” there was no indication that Bush will get a pass here.

There is renewed talk about increased congressional oversight of the White House in the wake of these revelations, and of course there is a disagreement about what a small number of members of Congress were told about the NSA spying in the wake of 9-11. Both Lindsay Graham and Arlen Specter expressed doubts today about Bush's actions, and McCain gave a cautious response, as you would expect from someone whose nuts are in Bush's hands.

The genesis for much of what Bush has done here came from a legal opinion from former Bush administration official and now again U. C. Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who argued that the executive had supreme power to do things like this in order to protect and defend the United States of America. Yet as several sources have noted, Yoo’s opinion has never been tested in the courts; ignores that Bush already had the ability under current law to obtain this information legally by going before the highly-secret and compliant Foreign Intelligence Services Court; and that the authority Yoo cites applies to military action, not the trampling of constitutional protections here at home.

Friday, former GOP representative Bob Barr hammered GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher on the issue, who took the position that he was grateful Bush had trampled the constitution in his pursuit of dirt on Americans. This would mean Bush would have a field day with Rohrabacher himself, who has openly supported the Taliban. Rohrabacher also says that Bush can do whatever he wants when we are war, whereupon Barr pounced and reminded Taliban Dana that we are waging an undeclared war at this time, since Bush has never sought a declaration of war. (Hat tip to Atrios)

Former CIA agent Larry Johnson weighed in on this, and reminded us that John Bolton is perhaps up to his shoulders in this mess. Remember the information that the administration refused to turn over to the Senate?

It appears that since Abu Gonzales was the one who signed off on the legal opinion that granted Bush unchecked power to authorize the NSA spying in this case in violation of current law and the constitution, then Gonzales has now been caught in a lie at his confirmation hearing this past January.

As Mary noted yesterday, Laura Rozen over at War and Piece points out that any attempt by the GOP to argue that Democrats cannot attack this now since they were told about it already is hollow. Dianne Feinstein pointed out that telling only eight senators about this crime under the veil of national secrecy and therefore requiring that there be no disclosure of the crime doesn’t constitute congressional consent or even the semblance of consultation. The fact remains that Bush already had the means to go to a secret court and obtain warrants for this information without fear of disclosure and he chose instead from Day One to go around the system in place and obtain this information on hundreds of Americans.

There was a report earlier in the weekend, which I am still trying to find, that indicates Bush was allowing expanded domestic spying even before 9/11, which, if true, changes everything. After initially refusing to discuss this, in typical White House fashion, Bush and Rove with Cheney’s urging are going on the offensive here, and daring Congress to do something about this. Bush and Cheney believe that 9/11 gave the executive branch the responsibility and authority to do whatever they feel is necessary to “protect and defend” the country from our enemies, even citizens here at home. They feel this based not on court cases but on their own legal analyses and the failure of the opposition to force the issue into the courts, which given their current composition are just as likely to find that the supreme power Bush claims for military action also applies in an alleged time of undeclared war to shredding the Bill of Rights.

Now is the time to find out if we in fact are a quasi-fascist state. Push this issue to the courts now, since I have no faith in what a GOP congress will or will not do on this issue. If Bush wanted authority in excess of what he already had, the administration has had years to demand such authority with the Patriot Act extension and in an advantageous political environment, yet has decided not to do so. The White House knows that in order to go this route, they would have to demonstrate at congressional hearings that existing authority under the FISA wasn't sufficient, which then would beg the question of what they were really after here.

Bush's claims about domestic success in the war on terror have fallen apart under scrutiny. Since this never-shy-about-demagoging-national-security administration hasn't pushed this issue until they have been caught redhanded, I can only surmise that this wasn't about protecting us from terrorists. Bush and Cheney are gambling that they can bitchslap Congress into backing off their pressure, and that any eventual inquiries will be handled in the usual way by this GOP leadership: whitewash.

So with Samuel Alito looming and pretty boy John Roberts now presiding, let's cut to the chase and see how far the GOP has taken this country towards fascism.

Steve :: 8:30 PM :: Comments (59) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!