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A question for Republicans:  Do you want to hand a President Barack Obama the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for Democrats:  Do you want to hand a President John McCain, who has already openly said he will use it, the right and power to spy on any American citizens he chooses, including his political opponents, without any court-ordered warrant, in blatant violation of the law and the Fourth Amendment?

A question for everyone: Do you want to give any president, and the presidents after him, this power and all the other powers that have been seized by President George W. Bush?  Do you want to have to bet your safety, security, prosperity, and liberty on the chance that each successive president will turn out to be the sort of person able to exercise remarkable resistance to abusing available powers, even though the American colonists fought a revolution so that you wouldn't have to?

Exactly what illegal power to spy has Bush seized for himself and all future presidents?  The ones laid out in the 24th article of impeachment introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich on Monday night:

Article XXIV

SPYING ON AMERICAN CITIZENS, WITHOUT A COURT-ORDERED WARRANT,  IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW AND THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution  "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed", has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, knowingly violated the fourth Amendment to the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Service Act of 1978 (FISA) by authorizing warrantless electronic surveillance of American citizens to wit:

(1) The President was aware of the FISA Law requiring a court order for any wiretap as evidenced by the following:
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(A)"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." White House Press conference on April 20, 2004 [White House Transcript]

(B) "Law enforcement officers need a federal judge's permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist's phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we're talking about." President Bush's speech in Baltimore Maryland on July 20th 2005 [White House Transcript]

(2) The President repeatedly ordered the NSA to place wiretaps on American citizens without requesting a warrant from FISA as evidenced by the following:

(A) "Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials." New York Times article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau on December 12, 2005. [NYTimes]

(B) The President admits to authorizing the program by stating "I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups. The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it." Radio Address from the White House on December 17, 2005 [White House Transcript]
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(C) In a December 19th 2005 press conference the President publicly admitted to using a combination of surveillance techniques including some with permission from the FISA courts and some without permission from FISA.

Reporter: It was, why did you skip the basic safeguards of asking courts for permission for the intercepts?

THE PRESIDENT: ... We use FISA still -- you're referring to the FISA court in your question -- of course, we use FISAs. But FISA is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect. Now, having suggested this idea, I then, obviously, went to the question, is it legal to do so? I am -- I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely. As I mentioned in my remarks, the legal authority is derived from the Constitution, as well as the authorization of force by the United States Congress." [White House Transcript]

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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