Sunday, July 29, 2007

Here's to Mr. Audacity

Image of Original Painting, "Binky's Bad Karma," Used with Permission of the Artist, Mark Bryan

We have to give this to Mr. Bush ~ no law, & no tired meme, will he allow to to stand in the way of his quest for all-encompassing executive power. In today’s news, courtesy of The Hill, we learn that Bush used his Saturday radio address to try press forward with his overwrought claims that the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, & the FISA court, established in the aftermath of Nixon’s excesses to prevent an executive who wishes to style himself King from spying without warrants, except in certain instances, is outdated. It doesn’t address modern technologies like cell phones & e-mails, he says, & we need to update it.

Of course he casts it in patriotic terms:

“’Every day that Congress puts off these reforms increases the danger to our nation’ Bush said in his weekly radio address. ‘Our intelligence community warns that under the current statute, we are missing a significant amount of foreign intelligence that we should be collecting to protect our country.’

“The administration’s updates to FISA focus heavily on modern technologies not around when the bill was passed almost 30 years ago, such as cellular phones and e-mail. Bush argues that the extended powers his proposal grants are essential to national security.

“’It will streamline administrative processes so our intelligence community can gather foreign intelligence more quickly and more effectively, while protecting civil liberties,’ Bush said.

As John Dean pointed out in an article for Findlaw a year ago about Russ Feingold’s resolution to censure Bush over his overbearing & quite probably illegal spying programs:

“Feingold's preamble points out that Bush openly lied to Americans about his secret wiretapping, on repeated occasions: On April 20, 2004, Bush said, `When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.’'; on July 14, 2004, he claimed that ‘the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order’; and on June 9, 2005, he said, ‘Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, a federal judge's permission to track his calls, or a federal judge's permission to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of these tools.’

“All this was untrue. Bush had authorized these very law enforcement officials to bypass federal judges, and proceed without warrants. Why he engaged in such bald-faced lies, in circumstances where it was not necessary, is unclear.

“Senator Feingold's proposal has no chance of being adopted in a GOP-controlled Senate - one that includes, as well, more than a few spineless Democrats. Still, he has made his point. As Feingold told the New York Observer, ‘What [the Republicans had] succeeded in doing, [since this issue has arisen] was to sweep the illegality under the rug.’ Feingold added, ‘I decided it was time to include that on the record and came up with the censure proposal, to bring accountability back into the discussion. And I succeeded in doing that. That's been achieved.’

The resolution was ignored. But the battle goes on. The point here is that Bush’s whining about the necessity of “reforming FISA” seems to be based on the same old lies, fearmongering & paranoia. I’ve no doubt that data-mining & other domestic spying programs have been in effect for a long time, & as Patrick Leahy, interviewed by The Hill, “….stated this week that the Bush Administration abuses the current FISA law and should not be granted further powers.

“’This supposed self-examination, with no involvement by the courts, no report to Congress, and no other outside check, essentially translates to ‘trust us,’ Leahy said ‘With a history of civil liberties abuses and cover-ups, this Administration has squandered our trust.’

“Civil liberties advocates are also opposing the proposal.

“Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union said it is ‘outrageous’ for the administration to say it needs additional powers ‘to wiretap without warrant’ adding that FISA must not be modernized but should instead be followed.

“’This is not the time to hand even more power to an administration that has permitted the wholesale abuse of civil liberties; has denied the legislative branch’s constitutionally mandated oversight role and refused to hold the attorney general accountable for a series of conflicting claims that defy logic, the law and common sense,’ said Fredrickson. ‘The only thing more outrageous than the administration’s call for even more unfettered power is a Congress that would consider giving it to them.’”

Keep up with the ACLU’s campaign to bring Buschco to heel here (I especially like the checklist of characters involved):

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Blogger enigma4ever said...

this is a great post...I did also give you a shout out on my blog- people need to know about this blog- great info and an awesome blogroll ( well, except that Watergate Summer is not there ;-(

But back to the post...I fullheartedly support all of the ACLU 'S efforts, I did file reports with them regarding voting issues and some of these issues ( NY and Ca. offices)....they are excellent...and working hard to fight back...most people have NO idea, not a clue, how badly our Liberties have indeed been trampled, and that the govt is spying on 1000's.....

Thank you for the great post...

2:17 PM  

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