Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bush in trouble

Seems like getting the NSA to spy on US citizens is never a good idea especially when you have a critical piece of legislation like the USA Patriot Act coming up for renewal in Congress. The timing of the revelation by the NYT could not have been better for the Acts detractors and has all but ensured that the Senate will now let it lapse on December 31 (when it is supposed to expire).

Perhaps "Arbusto" Bush decided that he was not George W but King George instead - the British king the US overthrew in 1776 because the American Colonies felt he ruled them with an arrogance that placed him above the law.

The ironic thing is that Bush could have simply asked Congress to include these special powers in the original USA Patriot Act or just sought permission from a judge under the existing provisions of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act passed in 1978).

The Bush Administration has indicated that no laws were broken because the President was exercising legitimate powers granted under the Constitution's Article 2 (Powers of the Commander-in-Chief). If that logic is taken to its conclusion then why have the USA Patriot Act or why have any restraint on Presidential power at all. One could conclude that on national security matters the President can just break inconvenient laws since he is protecting the people.

I personally think that Bush has over reached. He may be convinced that he acted rightly and perhaps he did. But Bush is not a king - he is a President and his duty is to uphold the law not break it. This is a very slippery slope and Congress should investigate to find out what exactly happened. If need be the vagueness of Article 2 should be clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States.


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