Let’s get a handle on morality and the rule of law in the United States. The end-run around the law that requires the federal government to request a warrant to use electronic surveillance on American citizen’s was not enacted to tie the government’s hands, or to give this or any other administration the “appearance” of adhering to the nation’s constitution, it was enacted to guarantee our right to privacy. The truth is that no president is above the law. The fact that a warrant can be requested after the act of using electronic surveillance 3 days after the fact makes not complying with the law unconscionable…and illegal. The new FISA bill that is now in front of the Senate would give the telecommunications retroactive immunity for allowing the administration to spy on Americans without a valid warrant when they knew at the time it was patently against the law. The administration knew it, the telecommunications companies knew it, and the members of the United States Senate know it.
Since September 11, 2001, we have witnessed President Bush and Vice-President Cheney while they have distorted and manipulated the media to convince American citizens to accept an invasion of Iraq. The constant use of fear as a political tool to enhance the power of the presidency has succeeded in making George Bush one of the most powerful presidents in our history. The FISA debate that is currently underway in the Senate is not about protecting the telecommunication industry that allowed spying on American citizens without a warrant, it is about setting a precedent so that the president and his administration will not be charged in the future with the very same thing. Make no mistake, this is about allowing the administration to get “off the hook” for breaking the law.
George Bush and the people that make up his administration have lied to us 935 times in the run-up to the war in Iraq. (See Dan Froomkin’s blog on the Washington Post ) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/01/23/BL2008012301758_pf.html.) Now the President is unabashedly trying to manipulate the U.S. Senate into giving him a “free-pass” when it comes to breaking the law. This is not a partisan issue; it is a legal and moral issue. We can certainly agree that the scope of our knowledge about how many American’s have been subject to government spying in the past has certainly been well documented, from Dr. Martin Luther King and John Lennon, to John Kerry. This isn’t anything new; we all know that the government has been at this business of spying on the citizens of this country for a long time, what is new however, is this administration’s attempt legalize breaking the law.
I mentioned in the first part of this article that this is not a political issue. The very same criterion that was applied to former President William Jefferson Clinton applies here. He was impeached in the House for lying under oath about a tryst with an intern that worked for his administration. Compared to what President George W. Bush has lied about, the Clinton deception hardly warrants a footnote in the history books, yet we all wait to see if the very same standards that applied to Clinton will be applied to Bush. The mainstream media has apparently decided that the Bush Administration’s spying on American citizens is not worth the headlines that Clinton’s adulterous escapades had. What does this type of reasoning imply? Where is the moral outrage that was present when Clinton lied under oath? Is the acquiescence of the American people on the subject of our government spying on our people sending a signal to all that read into it that we aren’t willing to take a stand? That the executive branch of our government is above the law?
John Edwards seems to be the only candidate speaking out of the subject of giving President Bush’s co-conspirators’ amnesty. He urges Americans to let your Senators know how you feel. I applaud him for standing up for the rule of law in this beleaguered nation of ours, but then again, why should it be such a novel idea for a former Senator and a candidate for the presidency to stand for obeying the law? Maybe it’s because nobody else in the crowd seems to believe that it matters.
That’s the way I see it.