My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The President Broke the Law

and his reaction to this is essentially, "I did it and so what?" He is the president and he can do whatever he damn well pleases.

Well, the problem will all this is that President Bush has just acknowledged that he has violated the law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requires that national security wiretaps be authorized by the secretive FISA court. "A person is guilty of an offense," the law reads, "if he intentionally . . . engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute".

In addition, many people on the TV and talk radio have been touting the one year exemption provided by the statute as justification for President Bush's actions in spying on American citizens within the country. That, also simply does not wash, since those exemptions specifically excluded using this exemption for spying on American citizens:

The exemption of surveillance without a court order for 1 year applies only under the following circumstances: "....the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that— (A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at— (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and (C) the proposed minimization procedures with respect to such surveillance meet the definition of minimization procedures under section 1801 (h) of this title..."

Actually President Bush appears to be mostly relying upon Attorney General Ascroft's guidelines regarding the application of FISA, not the law itself, for justification. On May 17, 2002, the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court ruled that portions of guidelines issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft on intelligence sharing violated federal law. The court said the policy established by Ashcroft, who cited the Patriot Act for his authority, shortcut the Constitution and FISA by replacing existing surveillance requirements used for criminal prosecution with the more lax FISA requirements.

President Bush has arrogantly and defiantly admitted to violating the law. So why do people insist on defending him in this matter? Is the President above the law?

No comments: