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Monday, December 19, 2005

Speaking of Contempt…

Posted by on December 19 at 13:47 PM

Democrats seem to be finding their voice on the domestic spying issue, accusing Bush of contempt for the rule of law:

In a news conference to respond to Bush’s statements, three Senate Democrats challenged the legal justification for the domestic spying program…

Where does he find in the Constitution the authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens without any court oversight?” demanded Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He also disputed Bush’s statement in the news conference that checks on his executive power — such as his authority to order the secret surveillance — came from his oath of office and congressional oversight.

“That’s not a check on the executive branch, notifying some members of Congress — if he did — that he’s taken the law into his own hands,” Levin said. “That is not a check on the executive branch, nor is the fact that he gets opinions from six lawyers in the executive branch, all under his control, that he can do this.

Levin noted that [current wiretap law] allows for retroactively seeking the court’s permission for wiretaps in the event of an emergency. “And so he can’t just simply use the necessity to move quickly as an excuse to bypass the law,” he said.

“The president does not have a leg to stand on legally with regard to this program,” said Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.)…

If Bush feels the [wiretap] law needs to be changed, “he should come to us and we should debate it,” Feingold said. Meanwhile, Bush should respect the [federal court system] and “cease doing anything else he might be doing for which there is not legal authority that we don’t know about,” he said. “He is the president, not a king.”

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Here's an issue upon which blue-state people and paranoid arms-caching red-state people should be able to unite without much qualification. At least, it would've been ten years ago, when it seemed to me that the Internet mailing lists for advocates of gun ownership were obsessed with the dangers of gun registration. (Some think that registration tells the feds who has the guns, making it easy for them to come around to confiscate firearms just before instituting the complete police state.)

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