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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, June 21, 2007


The Spy Game is Back

"It's important for Congress to understand that the information the committee is requesting is highly classified and not information we can make available. Also important is for Congress to respect our need to ensure that internal executive branch deliberations are confidential."
-Bush's spokesman Tony Fratto

Senators on the Judiciary Committee want the White House to tell the truth in regard to their secret wiretapping program which violated the 1978 FISA law. Along with the seven Democrats agreeing to give Chairman Patrick Leahy (DEMOCRAT-VT), the guy who Vice President told "Go F<---> yourself" on the floor of the Senate and for the record, the authority to issue subpoenas to Alberto Gonzales, then the President Chief Counsel and the man who said "OK" to the wiretaps and to the "custodian of records at the Executive Office of the President." They simply want to find out what was done and if the law was broken. Of course, by now we all know that this law was broken and it's how badly it was broken which we all want to know. And the only way we're going to find that out is if we make these guys in the White House tell us.

By the way, the vote on the committee was 13-3 with three of the six GOP Senators voting with the Democrats. They were Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who, on occasion shows an independent streak; former Judiciary Chairman and flip-flopper Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania who will, no doubt, claim that he voted with the committee after he voted against them; and - surprise, surprise - Orrin Hatch of Utah. I wonder what's up his sleeve?

Mr. Fratto states that the White House information is confidential. Well then, it's a good thing that we're only giving it to our elected officials. After all, we wouldn't want it to fall into the wrong hands. Who knows what might happen? Why, they may even find out the identity of a covert CIA operative who is working on Weapons of Mass Destruction. We just can't give that info out now, can wee?

But now we all know that not everyone in the administration thought that breaking the law was a good idea. Already testifying was the acting Attorney General, James Comey, who witnessed the likes of Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove at the bedside of a critically ill John Ashcroft trying to force him to say "it's OK".

For those who might not know what the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) says, here's a quick "What not to do": Get a warrant - you may start your spying, but must ask the secret FISA Court for permission to continue after three days. With thousands of FISA warrants being issued and merely a couple of dozen being denied, asking for their "OK" is not a hard thing to do.

You see, the FISA law was in response to the Watergate affair. You all might remember that as the event which almost lost for us all our Constitutional rights. Our members of Congress didn't want the President - any President - to become another Richard Nixon and use the FBI, CIA and anyone else he could think of as his own personal covert operatives. They especially don't want to allow any official the ability use their position for political gain. The immediate fear as that the office holder, or party in office, would be able to manipulate and maneuver their way around fair elections.

No wonder Bush hates this bill. he hates is so much that he decided to ignore it. That is, of course after he decided that it was a good law.

"there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed,"
-President Bush prior to the nation finding out about his NSA's illegal wiretapping program

Then there's this exchange more recently from a GW Press Conference (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/01/20060126.html):

QUESTION: Mr. President, though -- this is a direct follow up to that -- the FISA law was implemented in 1978 in part because of revelations that the National Security Agency was spying domestically. What is wrong with that law if you feel you have to circumvent it and, as you just admitted, expand presidential power?

PRESIDENT BUSH: May I -- if I might, you said that I have to circumvent it. There -- wait a minute. That's a -- there's something -- it's like saying, you know, you're breaking the law. I'm not. See, that's what you've got to understand. I am upholding my duty, and at the same time, doing so under the law and with the Constitution behind me. That's just very important for you to understand.
Secondly, the FISA law was written in 1978. We're having this discussion in 2006. It's a different world. And FISA is still an important tool. It's an important tool. And we still use that tool. But also -- and we -- look -- I said, look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law? And people said, it doesn't work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.
And so that's why I made the decision I made. And you know, "circumventing" is a loaded word, and I refuse to accept it, because I believe what I'm doing is legally right.

Well, let's see... There IS a FISA law, not WAS a FISA law, which means that in order to disobey it (what the rest of us might call "breaking"), you'd either have to have it repealed or declared unconstitutional. With a GOP Congress and senate and a very friendly Supreme Court, one has to wonder what the President didn't do either of those things.

In fact, the President couldn't even get his Congress, the most agreeable Congress for any President ever in US history, to agree to changing this law. So the President did, indeed, decide to circumvent it and we all want to see the documents which will allow us to find out exactly who knew what; when did they know it; whose idea was it; and when the President said, "Okey Dokey."

In order for President Bush to convince us all that his intentions in breaking (yes, breaking) the FISA law was honorable is to convince us all to believe that he wouldn't use it for personal or political gain. I think back to the FBI file left on a White House end table during the Clinton years. All the Republicans did was to scream that President Bush and then First Lady Hillary Clinton were spying on us. It turned out that it was just a mistake.

This is so much worse.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg