I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Breaking the law in the name of the war on terror

By now I'm sure most of you have witnessed the flurry of news articles and blog reactions to the New York Times' revelation that George W. Bush has authorized secret surveillance of phone calls and e-mails made by Americans to foreign recipients since 2002 without seeking a court order to do so. There has been a great deal of, to put it mildly, "questionable" activity undertaken by the President ever since he announced the beginning of the "war on terror", but this one may be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. Congressmen from both sides of the aisle were immediately up in arms over this, with Democrats and Republicans alike calling for hearings into this matter in 2006. Bush declined to comment.

Among the many reactions to this jaw dropping news, I found this entry from the Washington Monthly to be the one which cut straight to the meat of the matter. A short excerpt.
This is against the law. I have put references to the relevant statute below the fold; the brief version is: the law forbids warrantless surveillance of US citizens, and it provides procedures to be followed in emergencies that do not leave enough time for federal agents to get a warrant. If the NY Times report is correct, the government did not follow these procedures. It therefore acted illegally.

Bush's order is arguably unconstitutional as well: it seems to violate the fourth amendment, and it certainly violates the requirement (Article II, sec. 3) that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
The article's author then goes on to speak about how impeachment is a traumatic event for the country to endure, and it should be avoided where possible. But such a flagrant violation of the 4th amendment and cavalier disregard for the rights and privacy of our citizens under the banner of the president's allegedly unlimited powers during a "time of war" certainly seems to meet however high a bar you care to set for "high crimes and misdemeanors."

None of this, however, stopped certain right wing individuals, apparently blinded by their Bush-love (such as Michelle Malkin and Hindrocket at Powerline) from immediately calling for an investigation... into who leaked the story. The basic talking points for their apologist stance on this revelation seem to follow this story line: We are at war. The President needs unlimited power to fight the terrorists who are about to attack us at any moment. If that means that you have to compromise some of your civil liberties, that's just how it goes in a time of war. And besides, he didn't do anything illegal because the Commander in Chief has virtually unlimited authority during a war.

It's clear that Malkin and Hinderaker are willing to surrender their constitutionally protected rights and liberties in the interest of political expediency. Please, however, do not be so egotistical as to think you can speak for the rest of us on this.

This president is completely out of control and has stepped far beyond the boundaries of the law with no regrets. It is high time to vote the Democrats into a majority in the House and Congress and begin impeachment hearings the first day they are seated in 2007.

Related Post
The Imperial Tyrannical Presidency

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