Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Day 73 and Counting
Tell Your Representative: Support Congressional Inquiry for Impeachment!
The text of your message will say:
I am writing to ask that you co-sponsor H.Res.635 which will create a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before Congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.Do it now!
The President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and other high officials must be held accountable. Our Constitution demands no less.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Day 72 and Counting
Why not wait for a showing of supportive public opinion, delay the motion to impeach until after next November's elections? Assuming that further investigation of the President's addiction to the uses of domestic espionage finds him nullifying the Fourth Amendment rights of a large number of his fellow Americans, the Democrats possibly could come up with enough votes, their own and a quorum of disenchanted Republicans, to send the man home to Texas. Conyers said:
“I don't think enough people know how much damage this administration can do to their civil liberties in a very short time. What would you have me do? Grumble and complain? Make cynical jokes? Throw up my hands and say that under the circumstances nothing can be done? At least I can muster the facts, establish a record, tell the story that ought to be front-page news.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Day 67 and Counting
The discussion panel includes Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director; John W. Dean, former White House counsel; Mary DeRosa, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the CATO Institute; and Professor Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard. Marvin Kalb, Senior Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy is the moderator.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Day 65 and Counting
One of my commenters says that "the wiretapping issue is fizzling out." Ms Erbe addresses that comment as follows:
Those blasphemously "liberal" media outlets have once again deprived the American public of widespread coverage of nothing less than startling poll results. The non-partisan polling firm Zogby International last month found that by a margin of 52 percent to 43 percent, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush "if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval."The point of this blog is to track how long it takes those entrusted with protecting the law of the land to do their duty. Impeach the President today.
But grassroots passion for impeachment prompted by this president's circumvention of Congress and the Constitution is what's driving growing public support. And America's transition from "Bush fan" to "Bush foe" is being ignored by the mainstream media.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Day 60 and Counting
Monday, February 13, 2006
Day 58 and Counting
Another good analysis of the grounds for Impeachment, this article concentrates on the false argument that the President has exclusive powers as Commander-In-Chief that make FISA unconstitutional.
There are some powers of the President that cannot be limited by Congress. But not every action that the President would be permitted to take on his own is therefore his to take in the teeth of a Congressional prohibition.
[I]nherent Presidential authority to prescribe discipline for the armed forces is only a default setting. It can be changed by Congress. How do we know that? Because the Constitution expressly grants to Congress the power "[t]o make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces." This Congressional power would not be worth the parchment it's written on, were the President able to flout any and all rules and regulations Congress enacted.
The Administration claims that the President has inherent authority to order wartime warrantless surveillance of American citizens as Commander in Chief. That claim is probably correct, although the Supreme Court has never squarely rejected the argument that such surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment. But even if we put aside any Fourth Amendment objection, there is a world of difference between warrantless surveillance conducted on the President's own authority, and such surveillance conducted in violation of a Congressional prohibition such as FISA.
For if the President's default power to order warrantless surveillance stems from his inherent default authority as Commander in Chief of the armed forces, then surely the specific authority of Congress, expressly granted by the Constitution, to prescribe rules and regulations of those same forces can change the default.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Day 53 and Counting
Today's other must read/listen is the Statement of Senator Russ Feingold On the President’s Warrantless Wiretapping Program which follows up on Monday's Senate hearings.
The President has broken the law, and he has made it clear that he will continue to do so. But the President is not a king. And the Congress is not a king’s court. Our job is not to stand up and cheer when the President breaks the law. Our job is to stand up and demand accountability, to stand up and check the power of an out-of-control executive branch.The Senator's bottom line is the same as mine: "This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law." Impeach the President TODAY!
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Day 52 and Counting
The Washington Post published the transcript (from CQ Transcripts Wire) of Day 1 of the Senate Hearings (Monday, February 6, 2006) in three parts:
My friend, the City Troll, asked me to comment on how statements from Monday’s proceedings support my contention that George W. Bush authorized a program of illegal intercepts in 2001 and that this constitutes an impeachable violation of American law. Even though the Constitution gives the House rather than the Senate the responsibility of Impeaching the President for his criminal activities, and despite the fact that the Troll thinks that this is merely a partisan exercise, I will point out some of yesterday's highlights.
To avoid even the appearance of partisanship, I'm including only comments made by Republicans (except for one dialog between Attorney General Gonzales and Senator Feingold used to clarify an earlier comment of the AG) in the sequence in which they were made (except for an earlier explanation by Attorney General Gonzales used to clarify a later comment of the AG).
All emphasis is mine, as are any
SPECTER: Well, speaking for myself, I would urge the president to take this matter to the FISA Court. They're experts. They'll maintain the secrecy. And let's see what they have to say.Those were some of my favorite quotes from Day 1 of the Senate Hearings.
GONZALES: I believe that it's Section 109, which talks about persons not engaged in electronic surveillance under cover of law except as authorized by statute. And I may not have it exactly right.
We believe that that is the provision in the statute which allows us to rely upon the authorization to use military force.
The legislative history appears to reflect an intention that the phrase “authorized by statute” was a reference to chapter 119 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code (Title III) and to FISA itself, rather than having a broader meaning.
GONZALES: I think the only case that comes to mind that's really pertinent would be the 2002 case, In Re. Sealed Case by the FISA Court of Review. While the court did not decide this issue, the court acknowledged that every case that's considered this has found that the president has the authority.FEINGOLD: Isn't it true that the only federal courts to decide the president's authority to authorize warrantless national security wiretaps were considering wiretaps that were carried out before the enactment of FISA?So, Gonzales agrees that the only case arising under FISA did not rule on the issue he is arguing and the court's comments on inherent presidentitial authority were dicta, i.e., they had no legal value!
GONZALES: In which there were actual decisions? Actually, there was a 4th Circuit decision, the Truong decision, which was decided after FISA.
To be fair, I don't think they really got into an analysis...
FEINGOLD: And that case was about a Vietnam era wiretap, before FISA was enacted, right?
GONZALES: The collection occurred before FISA was enacted. The decision was made after FISA. And consequently my recollection is that case doesn't really get into a discussion about how the passage of FISA impacts or affects the...
FEINGOLD: If it was based on facts prior to FISA, then the only law that controls is the law prior to FISA, right?
GONZALES: That's right.
And then of course In Re. Sealed Case...
FEINGOLD: You covered that with Senator Feinstein. That was dicta...
Dicta = An opinion voiced by a judge that has only incidental bearing on the case in question and is therefore not binding.
FEINGOLD: Thank you.
GRAHAM: In all honesty, Mr. Attorney General, this statutory force resolution argument that you're making is very dangerous in terms of its application for the future. Because, if you overly interpret the force resolution -- and I'll be the first to say, when I voted for it, I never envisioned that I was giving to this president or any other president the ability to go around FISA carte blanche.
GRAHAM: The FISA statute said, basically, "This is the exclusive means to conduct foreign surveillance where American citizens are involved." And the Congress, seems to me, gave you a one-lane highway, not a two- lane highway. They took the inherent authority argument, they thought about it, they debated it, and they passed a statute -- if you look at the legislative language -- saying, "This shall be the exclusive means."
GRAHAM: All I'm saying is that the inherent authority argument, in its application, to me, seems to have no boundaries when it comes to executive decisions in a time of war. It deals the Congress out, it deals the courts out.
CORNYN: And clearly the Supreme Court, in the Hamdi case, said what we all know to be the fact, and that is no president is above the law, no person in this country, regardless of how exalted their position may be or how relatively modest their position may be -- we're all governed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
GONZALES: There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.
Thanks for clearing that up. So, let's stop comparing this to WWII!
KYL: Is it possible to acknowledge the FISA authority exists while also making the point that it's not the optimal or maybe even workable method of collection of the kind that's done under the surveillance program at issue here?
GONZALES: No question about it. It was one of the reasons for the terrorist surveillance program, is that while FISA ultimately may be used, it would be used in a way that's ineffective, because of the procedures that are in FISA.
This gets us back to the "we violated the law because it was inconvenient" excuse.
DEWINE: We've had a lot of discussion today, and you've referenced a lot to this group of eight, reporting to this group of eight.
I just want to make a point. It's a small point, I guess, but the statutory authorization for this group of eight is 50 USC 413(b). When you look at that section, the only thing this references as far as what this Group of Eight does is receive reports in regard to covert action. So that's really what all it is. It does not cover a situation like we're talking about here at all.
So, even Republicans are tired of the "blame it on the mysterious Gang of 8" excuse.
GRAHAM: Is it your opinion and the administration's position, without the force resolution that FISA is unconstitutional in the sense it intrudes on the power of the president to conduct surveillance in the time of war?
GONZALES: I think that question has been raised a couple of times today. I have indicated that that, then, puts us into the third part of the Jackson analysis.The third part was where the president is acting in contravention -- not in contravention, but in a way that's incompatible with congressional action.Yes, the president is CLEARLY acting in contravention, in violation, of not only Congressional action but of the law of the land.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Day 48 and Counting
ACLU Calls For Special Counsel: Add Your Voice
When President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, he violated the law, the Constitution and his oath of office.
No American is beneath the law's protection. And no one -- not even a U.S. president -- is above the law's limits.
Our system of checks and balances must be maintained if American democracy is to be preserved. Take action NOW by going to this Urgent Action Alert.
I went there, and this is the letter I sent to my Senators:
"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks." ~ Samuel AdamsDo it Now!
I invoke this quote by Samuel Adams to urge Congress to hold public and thorough hearings to investigate President Bush's authorization of warrantless electronic surveillance of people within the United States, including U.S. citizens, by the National Security Agency (NSA). I also call on you to request that the Department of Justice appoint a special counsel to investigate any and all criminal acts and/or abuses of power committed by any member of the Executive Branch who may have been involved in the warrantless surveillance.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as well as the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution clearly prohibit the warrantless surveillance of American citizens. FISA was passed by Congress in response to revelations that former President Nixon was using "national security" claims to spy on his enemies. The law specifically prohibits this abuse of power by the Executive Branch. Under FISA, federal agents are required to get court approval in order to monitor the communications of any person in the United States. FISA does permit the surveillance of people in the country linked to al Qaeda, but only with a court order. To do otherwise is a violation of federal law punishable "by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both."
Thus, when President Bush authorized, and then repeatedly reauthorized, the NSA to conduct electronic surveillance on people on U.S. soil -- whether their calls or emails were from or to family, friends or business colleagues abroad -- without a warrant, he violated both the letter and the spirit of FISA and overstepped his Constitutional authority.
Our nation's founders wisely established a system of checks and balances to prevent abuses of power by any one branch of government. For the sake of our democracy, Congress must uphold its responsibility to the Constitution and the American people investigate any and abuses of power by the Executive Branch. We cannot play partisan politics when nothing less than our freedom is at stake.
Because of Attorney General Gonzales' involvement in the authorization of the wiretapping program, a special counsel is necessary to ensure that a thorough and impartial investigation is conducted into the matter.
In the event that the investigation or Congressional hearings find that criminal acts were committed by members of the Executive Branch, then those responsible must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Again, I urge you to investigate President Bush's authorization of warrantless electronic surveillance of people within the United States by the NSA and to request that the DOJ appoint a special counsel to investigate any and all criminal acts and/or abuses of power committed by any member of the Executive Branch who may have been involved in the warrantless surveillance.
No one is above the law, not even the President. Our system of checks and balances must remain intact if our democracy is to survive.
I look forward to your response.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Day 46 and Counting
A high crime or misdemeanor means a serious abuse of power, whether or not it is also a crime, that endangers our constitutional system of government. In this case President Bush and Vice President Cheney have committed crimes – indeed the violation of FISA alone is a five-year felony. While impeachment should not be lightly pursued, Congress must exercise its responsibility and safeguard our democracy. No President can be permitted to commit high crimes and misdemeanors with impunity.It isn't only the President and Vice President who are breaking the law, but Bush is the Criminal in Chief. Today, Congressman Barney Frank correctly said that our country is in the hands of a "vast right-wing kleptocracy."
Kleptocracy: A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.
For more information, I went to Common Good State: The Next Phase of Human Societies which says, in part:
Kleptocratic governments are very common in authoritative societies. But even in democracies politicians and other powerholders are corrupted by their desire to obtain power and maintain it. Their need to gain and hold office (and power) requires contributions from special interests. These in turn expect and receive favorable legislation, government contracts and other economic and financial benefits. This excessive shifting of resources to the well-to-do ensures that many social and economic problems remain unresolved. In effect, a form of mild kleptocracy comes into existence, based on the human weaknesses of greed and hunger for power. The current Enron scandal disclosed that even the highly democratic political system of the United States can be tainted by this weakness.No one is above the law, not the President, not the Vice President, not the Republican Congress.