Why has the Bush administration decided to submit to judicial oversight of its wiretapping of suspected terrorists? After years of lawbreaking and eavesdropping with no oversight or warrants, the administration has now announced its soi-disant “Terrorist Surveillance Program” will be subject to the authority of a court.
For several years, we’ve heard that the president, in his role as Commander-In-Chief, has the right to ignore the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and intercept the communications of US citizens, in the United States, without obtaining any warrants and without any sort of oversight, in the name of National Security. The burden of having to obtain a warrant, even ex post facto, was too much to ask for, and would mean certain victory for The Terrorists.
Suddenly, that’s no longer the case, and the administration is able to find a way to comply with the law, without, one would assume, putting American lives in jeopardy. This is a strange decision for the do-no-wrong Bush administration to make.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, there’s no reason to be overjoyed by the President’s decision to stop breaking the law. However, those who have reflexively trusted the Bush administration and applauded its lawbreaking will surely be sorely dismayed at this turn of events.
It just occurred to me: could this be further evidence that President Bush is really a liberal?
UPDATE 2007/01/18, 13:26
Remember all those times Attorney General Gonzales said that critics of the illegal wiretapping were simply people who didn’t want the government listening in on terrorists at all? Today he says that whenever he said that, he was referring to lefty bloggers, and to no one else.
Feingold’s first question - “do you know of any one in the country who opposed eavesdropping on terrorists?”
Gonzales: Sure - if you look at blogs today, there is a lot of concern about all types of eavesdropping, who don’t want us eavesdropping at all.
Feingold: Do you know anyone in government who ever took that position?
Gonzales: No, but that is not what I said.
Feingold: It is a disgrace and disservice to your office and the President to have accused people on this Committee of opposing eavesdropping on terrorists.
Gonzales: I didn’t have you in mind or anyone on the Committee when I referred to people who oppose eavesdropping on terrorists. Perish the thought.
Feingold: Oh, well it’s nice that you didn’t have us “in your mind” when making those accusations, but given that you and the President were running around the country accusing people of opposing eavesdropping on terrorists in the middle of an election, the fact that you didn’t have Congressional Democrats in “mind” isn’t significant. Your intent was to make people think that anyone who opposed the “TSP” did not want to eavesdrop on terrorists, even though that was false. No Democrats oppose eavesdropping on terrorists.
Gonzales: I wasn’t referring to Democrats.
If you made up something like this, no one would believe it. But this is for real, readers.
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January 18th, 2007 @ 09:26
Bush has never had an excuse to bypass the FISA Court since it does not require a warrant before a wiretap but only within 72 hours after. He’s changing is tune for one reason only and that’s the November elections. Do you think he’d be changing his criminal behavior if Republicans had kept control of Congress? No way.
As for wingnuts calling Bush a ‘liberal’? They do that because he’s increased spending by $1 trillion a year in his first 6 years of office, but that’s no different than what Reagan did, and they don’t refer to him as a ‘liberal’.
Bush is not a liberal. He’s the farthest thing from one, in fact.
January 18th, 2007 @ 14:17
Well, this might be good news for me, $100,000+ to late, but good news none the less.
I’ll find the link where I told my story if you’d like. My man Stram knows it.
January 18th, 2007 @ 18:29
My guess is that the change in policy probably results from some lower court ruling and that it is unrelated to the election. The AG’s office is probably confronting an adverse ruling in a district other than the ninth circuit and that may be prompting a change in policy. That’s just a hunch though. Anyone hear of any recent rulings on wiretaps that may have resulted in this policy change?
January 18th, 2007 @ 18:34
Found something on this subject:
It’s from August and there is another article from CNN that covers a lot of the same ground. In August, the administration indicated it would appeal a decision a federal judge that said the warrantless wiretaps were unconstitutional. I would guess that some attorneys or judges have advised the administration that their appeal wouldn’t stand up and that they are being proactive now instead of taking a loss in the courtroom later on. Again, that’s speculation on my part though.
January 19th, 2007 @ 00:13
I think you’re wrong. If the Democrats had not taken over Congress, Bush would not have changed his mind on his illegal wiretapping.
January 19th, 2007 @ 00:39
Hanque might be onto something here. Remember, the government also took Jose Padilla out of military custody and charged him with “conspiracy to support terrorism” (after three years of being held, without formal charges, on suspicion of being a Dirty Bomber) once it looked like they might lose a court appeal on the constitutionality of his detention. Maybe it is a coincidence that this decision came shortly after the Democrats took over Congress.
January 19th, 2007 @ 08:34
Fellows, we will just agree to disagree. I ‘think’ you’re both being naive to think that Gonzalez would be appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee telling them they would now comply with the FISA Court.
In fact, if the Democrats had NOT taken control of Congress, he wouldn’t even have been called before the Committee.