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The Gross National Debt

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Seriously - where is the outrage?

Yesterday The New York Times broke the story that our President authorized a secret program to be carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA - "you talk, we listen"). This program, at its simplest, allows the NSA to eavesdrop on American citiziens (and that's a key aspect) without obtaining a warrant. The surveillance monitored phone conversations (both mobile and conventional) as well as electronic activities and who knows what else. In theory the eavesdropping was only on those persons with known ties to terrorist groups.

Except there's this thing that we're forgetting - it's called The Constitution. The Constitution is a wonderful document, imo, and it clearly spells out something we refer to as a "separation of powers". The way I interpret it, separating the powers is a safety against any one particular branch of government becoming too powerful. When Bush wanted to invade Iraq, he had to ask Congress for authorization. When he wants to appoint a Supreme Court justice, he can only do so if that justice meets the approval of the Senate. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our Democracy.

Yet the President seems to think that the Constitution is great as long as it is not inconvenient. Let me back up here - for those who don't know, it is not illegal to conduct domestic surveillance as long as certain conditions are met by the government in so doing. Specifically, there is a provision in the law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - FISA (pronounced Fye-sah) where a warrant can be obtained to conduct surveillance (spying). There are a cadre of judges who are FISA specialists and who deal with this issue regularly. There are provisions that allow for surveillance without authorization for 72 hours while a FISA request is evaluated. In the history of FISA only one request has been turned down. It is, simply, the law and despite the President's loud declaration this morning that he was within his legal rights and bound by duty to protect American citizens thereby making breaking of the law acceptable is and was flatly wrong.

There's only one reason Bush wouldn't use FISA to conduct this surveillance - especially when you consider that he had every reason to expect that his request would be granted. That reason is that FISA is subject to oversight by the Senate foreign intelligence committee. Democrats sit on that committee and requests as well as activities would be known to those from "across the aisle". The President and his mouthpieces are loudly declaring that they consulted with "members of Congress". How much are you willing to bet that those members are hard-line Bush loyalists?

The Constitution doesn't allow the President to consult cherry-picked "members of Congress" to receive "authorization" to spy on American citizens absent the oversight of those persons he finds less agreeable. This is truly a simple issue. If Bill Clinton was guilty of breaking the law in the Monica Lewinsky debacle, then why is this President not equally as guilty of hubris and law-breaking where the circumstances involve the civil rights of each and every American citizen as opposed to a blowjob involving two American citizens?

Where's the outrage? Find it. Stoke it. Talk about it while you still can - your rights and our American way of life are being continually assaulted. Let's stop this before we have nothing left worth fighting for.

posted by RenaRF at 6:04 PM 4 comments links to this post


Blogger Chas Ravndal said...

hello Rena. I really like your template

9:23 AM  
Blogger utenzi said...

Hi Rena. I checked on your blog both Friday and early yesterday to see if you had posted about this and was surprised not to see anything. I'm glad you're outraged by this circumvention of the constitutional powers given the Presidential Office.

Democracy and freedom apparently are concepts that George W wants for other countries, not his own.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Chas Ravndal said...

Hi rena thanks for dropping by as well and if you dont mind do you like to send an entry for my Show and Tell as well ? send it to post@likebanana.com

12:38 PM  
Blogger Miz BoheMia said...

Hi Rena! Thanks for dropping by my blog. It was a great surprise.

I am so glad to see someone address this topic! I was just talking about it with mu husband and how pissed off I was that the democrats weren't making a big deal out of this, the press, no one!

As far as I am concerned, Bush should be brought up in an international court of law... he is literally getting away with blatant violations of both domestic and international law and nothing! It is seriously pathetic!

1:29 PM  

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