It's time to choose, America.
George W. Bush has now openly and defiantly admitted that he authorised a secret, illegal eavesdropping program that spied on innocent US citizens. In classic Bush-speak, he criticized whistle-blowers for letting the US public know what is happening to their once-precious Democracy:
The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States.Problem is, the spying was illegal under the US Constitution. And how the $%&* can you defend this assault on basic human rights as "protecting civil liberties"? Only in Bush's world...
Senator Russ Feingold expresses the common outrage:
The President believes that he has the power to override the laws that Congress has passed. This is not how our democratic system of government works. The President does not get to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. He is a president, not a king.This is the same President who authorized torture. This is a President who doesn't care that he took the world to a war of choice based on faulty intelligence, but says he would do the same again (indeed, he says that a few more governments around the world still need to be changed).
Bush believes that he has the right to do whatever he wants, because he is the President. He believes this because that's what people like Rumsfeld, Cheney and Alberto Gonzales tell him. And his is too uncaring, obstinate or just plain stupid to seek the truth or even solicit other people's opinions.
The moment is here, America. The President of the USA is a criminal, and has admitted as much himself. You must now choose: your Constitution or the Bush cabal?
Richard Nixon once argued that "when the President does it, that means it's not illegal". Americans rejected that lie once. It is time to do so again.
It's over to you now, America...
UPDATE: Dammit, people, this is massive!
For starters, the NYT delayed publication of the story for a year! Why? The WaPo has a break-down here. Allegedly is was "to conduct additional reporting". In fact, it was not for that reason, nor for the sake of national security, but so the GOP could win the 2004 elections!
Remember, these are the guys who brought us Judith Miller. They also spiked the story on Bush wearing a wireless transmitter in his jacket at the TV debate just before the election - and this is supposed to be the most liberal paper in the USA???
The residents of the Bush White House believe they are above the law. That's because they know that by the time crimes like this reach the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court will be a GOP rubber stamp (just like Arthur Sulzberger Jr,. the publisher of the NYT).
This is clearly an impeachable offense, America.
UPDATE: From the Post-Gazette:
The idea that all of this is being done to us in the name of national security doesn't wash; that is the language of a police state. Those are the unacceptable actions of a police state.From Juan Cole:
The answer to Ben Franklin's comment about what sort of government the constitution enshrined--"A republic, if you can keep it"-- has been answered. We've lost it, folks...New York Times editorial:
It was a good run, this United States of America with its Constitution and its Bill of Rights. How sad that a gang of unscrupulous criminals has been allowed to subvert its basic values altogether.
Is there even a single one of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights that Bush and his henchmen have not by now abrogated by royal fiat?
And why? Because of a single attack by a few hijackers from a small terrorist organization? The thousands lost in the Revolutionary War did not deter the Founding Fathers from enshrining these rights in the Constitution! The fledgling American Republic was far more unstable and facing far more dangers when this document was passed into law than the unchallengeable hyperpower that now bestrides the globe as a behemoth.
Have we lost our minds?
Let's be clear about this: illegal government spying on Americans is a violation of individual liberties, whether conditions are troubled or not. Nobody with a real regard for the rule of law and the Constitution would have difficulty seeing that. The law governing the National Security Agency was written after the Vietnam War because the government had made lists of people it considered national security threats and spied on them. All the same empty points about effective intelligence gathering were offered then, just as they are now, and the Congress, the courts and the American people rejected them...From the Denver Post:
[The Bush] White House has cried wolf so many times on the urgency of national security threats that it has lost all credibility. But we have learned the hard way that Mr. Bush's team cannot be trusted to find the boundaries of the law, much less respect them.
Mr. Bush said he would not retract his secret directive or halt the illegal spying, so Congress should find a way to force him to do it.
If we give up our liberties in the name of anti-terrorism, the terrorists have already won.Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has promised hearings early next year:
There is no doubt that this is inappropriate.Jane Smiley calls this "the greatest threat to the US since the Civil War":
The outcome of such policies will be a dictatorship or a tyranny. Such policies cannot be reconciled with the US as we know it, or with the vision of the Founding Fathers...Smiley cites an article from Karen Kwiatkowski in which three witnesses confirm that Bush referred to the Constitution as a “just a god damned piece of paper.”
Our government was devised as a set of ideas about how to avoid kings, aristocracies, and tyrannies. If it fails at that, or is manipulated into producing tyranny, then we are no longer living in the US, we are living in a no man’s land, without an actual identity... The loss of our moral compass is devastating.
Senator Dianne Feinstein calls it "the most significant thing I have heard in my 12 years" in the Senate:
How can I go out, how can any member of this body go out, and say that under the Patriot Act we protect the rights of American citizens if, in fact, the president is not going to be bound by the law?And finally, in an excellent (must-read!) article, Trey Ellis ties all this into the bigger picture with a key quote from arch-neocon Michael Ledeen:
"We should not be outraged by Machiavelli’s call for a temporary dictatorship as an effective means to either revivify or restore freedom."UPDATE: David Sirota points readers to the most important question:
why would the President deliberately circumvent a court that was already wholly inclined to grant him domestic surveillance warrants? The answer is obvious, though as yet largely unstated in the mainstream media: because the President was likely ordering surveillance operations that were so outrageous, so unrelated to the War on Terror, and, to put it in Constitutional terms, so "unreasonable" that even a FISA court would not have granted them.
This is no conspiracy theory - all the signs point right to this conclusion. In fact, it would be a conspiracy theory to say otherwise, because it would be ignoring the cold, hard facts that we already know.