We’ve seen the Bush administration, time and time again, thumb its nose at the rule of law and the civil liberties of the American people. Additionally, in its behavior towards prisoners, so-called terrorists and other randomly selected foes, this is a group that holds itself above the law.
This week, the president and other administration hacks, have been traveling across the country, in a full-scale PR blitz, designed to justify spying and data mining aimed at American citizens. Brazenly, as the president has done since September 11, 2001, he uses the fog of fear and the guise of his war on terror to justify suspension of constitutionally guaranteed protections.
While half of the U.S. population is perfectly content with totalitarian-creep, voices of dissent are too few and curiously quiet. Fortunately, pockets of dissent exist and occasionally let the emperor know that he and his minions are standing naked as a jaybird. On Tuesday, Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, appeared at Georgetown Law School to deliver an address defending the NSA domestic spy programs. During the course of his speech, nearly 30 students stood up, donned black hoods one-by-one and turned their backs on Gonzales in protest. They also held aloft a white banner with black lettering that had the following quote from Ben Franklin; “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Afterwards, a panel of professors, including David Cole, who has written extensively on the subject civil liberties and the war on terror, stated that the NSA spying program is clearly illegal and that Gonzales was incorrect in defending it, both legally and constitutionally.
According to Cole, under FISA, Section 1811, entitled “Authorization During Time of War,” this very issue was specifically addressed by Congress. "They (Congress) said that when we’ve declared war, the President can conduct warrant-less wiretapping, but only for 15 days. And they said in the legislative history, this is so if the President needs further authority, he can come to us and ask for that authority. The President didn't do that here. He simply went ahead and did it without asking for their authority."
This isn’t surprising, as Bush is just continuing a lifelong pattern of thumbing his nose at rules and laws he has no use for. Whether it was at Harvard, driving drunk in Kennebunkport, failing to show up for military service, and now, as commander-in-chief, the most powerful position in the land and arguably, the world, this man knows no boundaries and no one appears capable of stopping him.
I continue to watch with interest just how far Congress, the media and ultimately, the American people will allow him to go in his crusade and ascension toward totalitarianism. Clearly, half of the country, including the kooky religious right, stands squarely behind this reign of hubris and lawlessness.