Enabled By A Weak Congress Afraid Of Their Political Shadows
Writing in The Huffington Post yesterday, Geoffrey R. Stone laid out the history of the recent domestic spying issues, beginning with the Supreme Court decision in 1972 protecting the 4th amendment of the constitution:
In 1972, in the Keith case, the Supreme Court unanimously held that even in national security investigations the president cannot constitutionally conduct electronic surveillance of American citizens on American soil without a judicially issued search warrant based on a finding of probable cause.
Then in 1978 congress enacted FISA:
In 1978, Congress enacted FISA, which established special rules dealing with foreign intelligence surveillance. FISA set up a special “secret” court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to handle these matters, but retained the probable cause and warrant requirements. FISA criminalizes any electronic surveillance not authorized by statute and made clear that it set forth the exclusive means by which foreign intelligence surveillance may lawfully be conducted.,/span>
In 2002 the Bushliburton administration began actively and covertly, violating the constitutional law and the 1978 FISA act and started monitoring communications in to and out of the United States, without any proper, court issued warrant, either through open court, or through the FISA court. The latest trouble started when all of this came to light, and congress and the people, rightfully questioned Bushliburton’s authority to conduct surveillance against citizens in the United States.
As reported by Stone yesterday:
Recently, the FISA court apparently ruled that it could not lawfully approve at least some of the president’s requests to engage in electronic surveillance of international communications because such surveillance was not authorized by FISA. This led to demands by the Bush administration that Congress amend FISA immediately to enable it to carry out this surveillance.
And that has led to our spineless congress (both Democrats and Republicans) to cave to the gamesmanship of Bushliburton and their (congress’s) perception of political pressure (coming most likely not from their individual constituents, but rather from K Street) and approving a bill to in essence retroactively acquiesce to wire tapping and surveillance of Americans in America at the will of the president and his operatives.
That is a very scary thought. As yesterday’s New York Times editorial put it:
Mr. Bush’s incessant fear-mongering — and the Democrats’ refusal to challenge him — has had one notable success. The only issue on which Americans say that they trust Republicans more than Democrats is terrorism. At least those Americans are afraid of terrorists. The Democrats who voted for this bill, and others like it over the last few years, show only fear of Republicans.
The Democratic majority has made strides on other issues like children’s health insurance against White House opposition. As important as these measures are, they do not excuse the Democrats from remedying the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. That is their most important duty.
And as Stone said it:
That Republicans in Congress supported this legislation is unfortunate. That some Democrats supported it, and thus made its passage possible, is nothing short of disgraceful. Just as they were stampeded by trumped up hysteria into authorizing the invasion of Iraq, once again they have been stampeded into granting the president a power he should never have been granted.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
We at BFD can’t agree more. Wake up America, while we are all at the country club sucking down cold beverages, our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are slowly, steadily and insidiously being stolen from us.