Saturday, February 18, 2006

My Last Post--Now Updated and More Concise!

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Think of this as the Campbell's condensed tomato soup of the blogosphere: goes down easier and no pesky noodles to chew. To perhaps encourage more comments, as well as to post a few things I forgot to add to my last post and a few things I've thought of since, I return to the NSA wiretapping scandal.

I won't rehash why this program is both illegal and unconstitutional. Scroll down and read my last post to understand my views on that. Thus, since last post I demonstrated that Bush had broken the law, this post we move into the punishment and sentencing phase.

First, further evidence that the Republican Party is being run (and ruined) by spineless cowards on Capitol Hill. Not that long ago, it looked like we might actually get some Congressional oversight out of this GOP-run machine for once. Arlen Specter and Sam Brownback protested that the program appeared to be in violation of the law. Even retired Rep. Bob Barr, Grand Inquistor and Leader of the Lynch Mob/Impeachment Trial of William Jefferson Clinton in the House of Representatives, joined Al Gore in calling for an investigation during a recent appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

"'Are we losing our lodestar, which is the Bill of Rights?' Barr beseeched the several hundred conservatives at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park. 'Are we in danger of putting allegiance to party ahead of allegiance to principle?'

Barr answered in the affirmative. 'Do we truly remain a society that believes that . . . every president must abide by the law of this country?' he posed. 'I, as a conservative, say yes. I hope you as conservatives say yes.'

But nobody said anything in the deathly quiet audience. Barr merited only polite applause when he finished, and one man, Richard Sorcinelli, booed him loudly. 'I can't believe I'm in a conservative hall listening to him say [Bush] is off course trying to defend the United States,' Sorcinelli fumed."

Barr's debating partner at this event, Viet Dinh, an author of the PATRIOT Act, "urged the CPAC faithful to carve out a Bush exception to their ideological principle of limited government. 'The conservative movement has a healthy skepticism of governmental power, but at times, unfortunately, that healthy skepticism needs to yield.... None of us can make a conclusive assessment as to the wisdom of that program and its legality,' Dinh acknowledged, 'without knowing the full operational details. I do trust the president when he asserts that he has reviewed it carefully and therefore is convinced that there is full legal authority.'

Dihn's words perfectly encapsulate the biggest problem with the Republican Party today: they have completely abdicated their Constitutional duty to act as a check and balance on the executive branch through oversight simply because the president is a member of their own party. There are still principled Republicans and conservatives who oppose this unconstitutional and un-conservative program, or so I had thought. Yet, now Barr stands virtually alone :

"The congressional inquiry into the NSA had seemed likely two months ago after The New York Times first reported the existence of the eavesdropping program Dec. 16. But Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the committee decided not to vote on whether to open an investigation after the White House agreed to give lawmakers more information on the program and agreed to changes to the current law.... In December, two Intelligence Committee Republicans — Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — joined Democrats in calling for a congressional investigation of the NSA program. Thursday, they voted to forestall hearings in favor of developing White House-backed legislation establishing clearer rules for the controversial program."

Roberts is now saying his committee will work with the White House to develop a bill which will, both retroactively and for the future, legalize the president's lawbreaking. It makes you wonder whether if the man Cheney shot had died, the White House would claim that the VP had the right to do that under the Constitution, or perhaps the Authorization to Use Military Force Congress passed after 9/11. The president broke the law; therefore, rather than punish him for it, let's change the law to legalize what he did!

Most sickening is that, with the exception of Barr, not one of the Republicans who voted to impeach Clinton wants to hold Bush to the same standard. Remember, "No man is above the law"? They left off the corrollary, "Unless he is a member of the Republican party."

Logically, impeachment would be the only effective remedy in this case. Now, I did not support impeaching Clinton because his crime, perjury, hardly seems to fit the Constitutional definitiaon of impeachable crimes: "treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors." Is perjury equivalent to treason or bribery? Especially when the purjury was about a matter of personal morality, not law. Nor have I supported impeaching Bush before now, like some liberals have. Lying America into a war is morally reprehensible, but there's no law against it.

However, for the first time, we have evidence that the president himself, as opposed to his cronies and underlings, has broken a law. Not only does the president not deny it, he's proud of it. It will not be necessary to work up the chain of command building a case against Bush, as it was with Nixon; like a deranged lunatic with no concern for good legal strategy, the president not only possesses the smoking gun, he's running around waving it in the air! It's an open and shut case. Even George Tenet would have to admit it's a "slam dunk."

Also, logically, this GOP-run Congress cannot be counted on to provide meaningful oversight over the executive branch. Failing to uphold their oath, they should immediately disband Congress until after November's midterm elections, when hopefully Americans will elect congressmen who put their Constitutional responsibility above party loyalty. Failing that, a Democrat-controlled congress would provide oversight if no other reason than partisanship. Either way, these are dark times for our country. I'll let Bob Barr have the last word:

"This debate is very simple: It is a debate about whether or not we will remain a nation subject to and governed by the rule of law or the whim of men."