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Friday, June 6, 2008

McCain: Executive Authority Is SO AMBIGUOUS!

posted by on June 6 at 17:10 PM

This is a bit of a “don’t know much about economics” moment for John McCain, and I can’t believe no one has Slogged it yet.

This morning, the New York Times reported on a curious contradiction in McCain’s and his advisor’s statements regarding the legality of warrantless wiretapping.

In a letter posted online by National Review this week, the adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said Mr. McCain believed that the Constitution gave Mr. Bush the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail without warrants, despite a 1978 federal statute that required court oversight of surveillance.

Mr. McCain believes that “neither the administration nor the telecoms need apologize for actions that most people, except for the A.C.L.U. and trial lawyers, understand were constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin wrote.

And if Mr. McCain is elected president, Mr. Holtz-Eakin added, he would do everything he could to prevent terrorist attacks, “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.”

McCain: pro warrantless wiretaps! and telecom immunity!

But wait a minute…

In an interview about his views on the limits of executive power with The Boston Globe six months ago, Mr. McCain strongly suggested that if he became the next commander in chief, he would consider himself obligated to obey a statute restricting what he did in national security matters.

Mr. McCain was asked whether he believed that the president had constitutional power to conduct surveillance on American soil for national security purposes without a warrant, regardless of federal statutes.

He replied: “There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, 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.”

Following up, the interviewer asked whether Mr. McCain was saying a statute trumped a president’s powers as commander in chief when it came to a surveillance law. “I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law,” Mr. McCain replied.

Confusing! McCain has now weighed in on the matter, and his statement is—I am not kidding—“It’s ambiguous as to whether the president acted within his authority or not.” Way to show leadership, dude. And way to scare the pants off anyone who cares about civil liberties and the separation of powers.

RSS icon Comments

1

It should also scare the pants off those who think they're voting for a cowboy who will trash the Constitution to save their miserable lives.

Posted by elenchos | June 6, 2008 5:19 PM
2


Having presidents who don't openly violate the Constitution, as well as federal and international law is just so pre-9/11.

Posted by Original Andrew | June 6, 2008 5:25 PM
3

way to scare the pants off anyone who cares about civil liberties and the separation of powers

Which is who exactly? I could walk up to 1000 random people, tell them the same thing, and they'd say, "so? At least McCain loves America enough to wear a fucking pin."

Granted, I'm in MO, but I have a feeling outside the blogosphere and Seattle, no one really gives a flying fuck about silly shit like The Bill of Rights.

Posted by Mike in MO | June 6, 2008 5:35 PM
4

Don't pay any attention to what the old dodderer SAYS; pay attention to the people who will be running his government for him, like his newest aide, Michael Motherfucking Goldfarb. What does Goldbarf think about executive privilege? Let's go to the transcript: "near dictatorial powers".

These loons have had a pretty good run with Bush, but they're still too tied to the past; McCain's bringing some of the real hard core with him, who will strip you of EVERY right.

Posted by Fnarf | June 6, 2008 5:46 PM
5

movie comments down?

Posted by bob | June 6, 2008 6:52 PM
6
Mr. McCain believed that the Constitution gave Mr. Bush the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and e-mail without warrants, despite a 1978 federal statute that required court oversight of [domestic]surveillance.
I know nuance is not your strong suit here at the Stranger, so here's a remedial civics lesson for you:

A statute cannot supercede the Constitution. If you want to take away the powers granted to the commander in chief by the constitution, you must pass a constitutional amendment, not a statutory law. Congress can write laws all day long restricting the powers granted to the president by the constituion and they will be as vaild as executive orders limiting the powers granted to congress.

John McCain didn't contradict himself on anything.

The constitution grants ALL Commander in Chief powers to the executive, this includes, naturally, the gathering of intelligence against foreign enemies.

FISA was passed to prevent the commander in chief from abusing his constitutional powers to protect Americans from foreign threats to spy on Americans for political purposes as was done by Attorney General Robert Kennedy under JFK when they abused CIC powers to spy on Martin Luther King Jr.

But the courts have ROUTINELY found that FISA does not and cannot limit the presidents constitutional powers to spy on foreign enemies (or suspected enemies) even when the other party they are talking to is in the United States. Histories of the jurisprudence can be found here and here.

But just to clear it up, lets look at testimony from former FISA judges themselves when they testified in front of the Senate on this very issue:

Judge Kornblum: If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now, I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute...

Senator Feinstein: Judge?

Judge Stafford: Everyone is bound by the law, but I do not believe, with all due respect, that even an act of Congress can limit the President's power under the Necessary and Proper Clause under the Constitution.

***

Chairman Specter: I think the thrust of what you are saying is the President is bound by statute like everyone else unless it impinges on his constitutional authority, and a statute cannot take away the President's constitutional authority. Anybody disagree with that?

[No response.]

Chairman Specter: Everybody agrees with that.You see, it really is very simple when you look to the constitution.

The constitution does not prohibit search and seizure, the bill of rights prohibits UNREASONABLE search and seizure.

Democrats, in order to score political points with ignorant voters, have been proposing the idea that spying on terrorists talking to people inside America constitutes an unreasonable search. Which of course is ridiculous, our government should be MORE concerned when our enemies are talking to people inside the country, not less, because, you see, its much easier to attack America from America than it is from Bumfuckistan

Which is why the FISA judges themselves agreed with the Bush administration and why the Bush administration continues to win this issue in court.

Do try to pull your heads out of your asses at least OCCASIONALLY huh?

Posted by Reality Check | June 6, 2008 8:26 PM
7
I can’t believe no one has Slogged it yet

We're too busy bashing Hillary or Obama supporters over here to worry about McCain.

OK, seriously, we really need to be hitting the Conservative blogs and telling Huckabee supporters that they are fucking retards if they don't support McCain. That'll win 'em over.

Posted by Mahtli69 | June 6, 2008 8:51 PM
8
Do try to pull your heads out of your asses at least OCCASIONALLY huh?

Start with yourself.


The constitution does not prohibit search and seizure, the bill of rights prohibits UNREASONABLE search and seizure.

The actual text of the fourth amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In other words, the government doesn't get to search you without a warrant based on probable cause. Doing so is an unreasonable search and seizure.


Which of course is ridiculous, our government should be MORE concerned when our enemies are talking to people inside the country...

No fucking kidding. But that doesn't give the government the right to spy on its citizens without probable cause, which is exactly what the Bush administration has been doing.

Enjoy losing all your rights, moron.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 6, 2008 8:56 PM
9

WTF?

LOTS of areas of constitutional law are ambiguous and it's responsible to say so.

Here, McCain seems to be saying a statute can't govern what the pres does overseas -- not inside the USA -- or as to noncitizens phone calls -- not as to citizens. For him to say this area is ambiguous is an adult like admission against his own interest, instead of a Bush-like stance that everything is always 100% certain.

He could be wrong legally. But if you only see black and white you are acting like GW Bush yourselves -- just from the left.

I felt the same way about the ACLU and quit when they sent me fundraising letters saying every alien has a right to immigrate here as a matter of our own constitutional law.

Posted by PC | June 6, 2008 10:48 PM
10

Some things are black and white, and the Bill of Rights is one of them.

Posted by k | June 7, 2008 7:46 AM
11

Reality check @ 6:

You're flat full of shit. The Bush adminsinstration is not demanding the authority to wiretap "foreign enemies" without a warrant. It already has that authority, and no one is contesting it.

They are, rather demanding the authority to wiretap U.S. CITIZENS, who are making domestic calls -- without a warrant -- for ANY reason that THEY get to decide is "national security."

That is a violation of the law and of the Fourth Amendment. That is far beyond the scope of the authority of the President acting as Commander-in-Chief.

We don't need to change the Constitution. We need to change the Supreme Court. That starts with electing Obama. Anyone who votes for McCain while understanding this is voting to flush our freedom and our civil liberties right down the shitter.

Posted by ivan | June 7, 2008 10:01 AM
12

Keshmeshi

In other words, the government doesn't get to search you without a warrant based on probable cause. Doing so is an unreasonable search and seizure.
Sorry idiot. You're wrong. Perhaps if you didn't get your civics education from a rag that survives on ads from transvestite whores named candy who want you to fuck them in the ass, you might have a clue what you are talking about. Try actually reading the jurisprudence as I suggested, and linked to, above.

From United States v. Truong, 629 F.2d 908:

In the area of foreign intelligence, the government contends, the President may authorize surveillance without seeking a judicial warrant because of his constitutional prerogatives in the area of foreign affairs...

For several reasons, the needs of the executive are so compelling in the area of foreign intelligence, unlike the area of domestic security, that a uniform warrant requirement would, following [United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972)], “unduly frustrate” the President in carrying out his foreign affairs responsibilities. First of all, attempts to counter foreign threats to the national security require the utmost stealth, speed and secrecy. A warrant requirement would add a procedural hurdle that would reduce the flexibility of executive foreign intelligence activities, in some cases delay executive response to foreign intelligence threats, and increase the chance of leaks regarding sensitive executive operations.The Truong case was one where Democrat JIMMY CARTER was spying on Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, AMERICAN CITIZENS within the United States and without a warrant because they believed them to be spying for Vietnam. And the courts agreed with Carter, and me, not you.

If you had actually read the links I had posted above, or if, for that matter, you had ANY interest whatsoever in FACTS instead of your hysterical ignorant opinions, you might know that there is a long history of jurisprudence where the courts have consistently ruled that the executive branch absolutely has the right to spy on American citizens even without a warrant when national security necessitates it.

As I said above, DO try to pull your head out of your ass occasionally, instead of pulling your opinions out of it.

Enjoy losing all your rights, moron.
Oh I don't enjoy losing rights at all, thats why I try to vote as many liberals out of office as possible. But I assure you I haven't lost ANY rights due to Republicans. I don't have the right to talk to terrorists in another country without the government listening in. And the courts have affirmed it many times.

Meanwhile, fucktard fascist liberals like yourself take away our right to freedom of association, by dictating to private businesses and private citizens who they can and cannot associate with. You are constantly taking away property rights, dictating how people may and may not use their property AFTER theyve already bought it, not to mention abusing the power of imminent domain to steal people's property so you can give it to someone who will pay higher taxes on it. Libtards such as yourself are taking away all sorts of rights and freedoms in the name of "environmentalism", from what what we can buy and what products we can and cant use to how where and when we can travel. And as Greg nichols is currently trying to do, you are constantly trying to take away the people's right to defend themselves, libtard fascists such as yourself are constantly trying to take away the freedom of speech of people who dont agree with you, as congress is attempting to do by reinstating the dishonestly named "fairness doctrine" which would apply ONLY to the one branch of media, talk radio, that liberals don't overwhelmingly dominate -- and with campus speech codes. I'm sure soon enough liberals will try to outlaw certain types of speech as they have already done in Canada where Mark Steyn is being prosecuted for his speech and the EU where Bridgit Bardot was just convicted for hers. All perpetrated by LIBERALS, not conservatives, not republicans.

No, I could go on and on. Unfortunately the list of freedoms that have been obliterated by little collectivist nazis like you is too long by far. but suffice it to say there isn't a single clause of the constitution that liberals haven't shit on, trampled or torn to shreds from the bill of rights to the separation of powers.

Tell me, asshat, where in the constitution does the government get the power to mandate that I buy health insurance? Nowhere, but good little nazis like you are just wetting your pants with anticipation of the government usurping that power so you can have "free" healthcare.

I will always be very mindful of anyone in power, but throughout history it has ALWAYS been big government fascists like you who constantly want to give the government more and more power over every aspect of our lives, not people like me who want government limited to the few powers granted to it by the people through the constitution who are the threat to freedom and liberty.

It has always been, and will always be people like you who insist the government should treat some groups differently than others, not people like us who insist the government treat us not as groups but as individuals, and treat all individuals equally, who have always been the threat to life and liberty.

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on you ignorant bastard. Yes, we lose rights far too often in this country. The more Democrats there are in government, the more rights we lose. and every fucking time its because of ignorant bastards like you.

Like I said, pull your head out of your ass and try actually educating your ignorant ass on what the courts have actually said about the issue. Try actually knowing what the fuck you're talking about for once.

But then again, if you knew what the fuck you were talking about, you wouldnt be a liberal in the first place!

Posted by Reality Check | June 9, 2008 7:17 AM

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