Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Mr. McTyranny

McCain Reverses Position, Now Sez He'll Keep Unitary Executive Powers to Spy on Americans
~ with Telcom Immunity, natch ~
It's been a difficult and delicate thing for John McCain to distance himself from Bushco's most controversial and unpopular positions ~ such as the infamous "declare war unilaterally and then expand presidential powers 'in wartime'" school of Imperial Legal Reasoning. Just witness the way his campaign has flip-flopped in an effort to appease those who worry about the effects on civil liberties and the right-wingers at the same time. After all, he's running on his official War Hero cred, and he needs the war to continue and expand if he wants to win the President's office ~ and more importantly, stay in it.
Truthout, picking up a Wired story yesterday, enlightens us:
"Monday, McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin, speaking for the campaign, disavowed those statements [calling for holding the telcoms accountable for secretly complying with Bushco's illegal gambits to spy on Americans], and for the first time cast McCain's views on warrantless wiretapping as identical to Bush's.
"'[N]either the Administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and the trial lawyers, understand were Constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. [...]
"'We do not know what lies ahead in our nation's fight against radical Islamic extremists, but John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution.
"The Article II citation is key, since it refers to President Bush's longstanding arguments that the president has nearly unlimited powers during a time of war. The administration's analysis went so far as to say the Fourth Amendment did not apply inside the United States in the fight against terrorism, in one legal opinion from 2001.
"McCain's new position plainly contradicts statements he made in a December 20, 2007, interview with the Boston Globe where he implicitly criticized Bush's five-year secret end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Then, he was quoted by the paper as follows: "I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is."
"The Globe's Charlie Savage pushed further, asking , 'So is that a no, in other words, federal statute trumps inherent power in that case, warrantless surveillance?' To which McCain answered, 'I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law.'
"McCain's embrace of extrajudicial domestic wiretapping is effectively a bounce-back...from...comments made at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Connecticut last month. When liberal blogs picked up the story that McCain had moved to the left on wiretapping, the McCain campaign issued a letter insisting that he still supported unconditional immunity, as well as new rules that would expand the nation's spy powers.
"The campaign's response was consistent with McCain's past positions and votes. But it riled Andrew McCarthy at the conservative National Review Online, who read the campaign's position as a disavowal of Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, and a wimpy surrender of executive power to Congress.
"'What does it mean when he says Sen. McCain does not want the telecoms put into this position again?' McCarthy asked. 'Is he saying that in a time of national crisis, the president should not be permitted to ask the telecoms for assistance that is arguably beyond what is prescribed in a statute?'
"That's when the campaign issued the letter explaining McCain's new views of executive power, and revealing that McCain would, in certain future circumstances, rely on the same theory of executive power in wartime.
"A spokesperson for McCain's camp did not respond to a request Monday for an explanation of the difference between the new policy and the December interview."
All of you disaffected Hillary supporters might want to reconsider just what you're going to get if you do, in fact, vote for Mr. McTyranny. You might as well be voting for George Bush's third term on all of the most pressing issues, and against democracy and the rule of law itself.

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