Clinton Followed the Law – Bush Broke It
… … For years, the FBI and other U.S. intelligence
agencies have used FISA to gather information through phone taps and electronic
bugs, all approved by a special panel of federal judges picked by Chief Justice
William Rehnquist. President Bill Clinton expanded the law in 1995 to include
what is known as “black bag” searches of homes, which are executed
while residents are away and without their knowledge.
Because FISA is intended to permit interceptions of
foreign or terrorist intelligence and not criminal evidence, the government
needs only to show the special court that “probable cause” exists
that the target of the requested surveillance is a foreign power or agent,
a definition that includes being a member of an international terrorist group.
That is a lower standard than what is required in criminal
law, where investigators must show probable cause to believe that a crime
is being planned or committed in order to get wiretap or search warrants from
a court. … …
Since the whole Valerie Plame let's out a CIA operative to keep
our faulty intelligence afloat scandal started, we've learned we can't trust a thing
that comes out of Scott McClellan's flapping lips. But today, while smearing
Al Gore, McClellan once again advanced the canard that Clinton did the same
thing as Bush. McClellan also got some help last night on Larry King, when
them 'til they give” Gonzales chimed in on Clinton.
It's a lie that Mr. McClellan and Alberto “let's throw 'em
in a tub 'til they can't swallow no more” Gonzales is hoping will fly because
people won't bother to find out the truth. Scotty and Alberto must not surf
the Web much.
As Think Progress lays down, the
Aldrich Ames case happened in 1993. Clinton expanded FISA in 1995 to include
search and seizures, those 4th Amendment issues that Bush and his boys like
To back up the Bush boy's bull, we've also got Byron
York blathering on that Gore actually agreed with Bush. I'm sure right-wing radio is on the job from coast to coast, bringing up the last front in the Republican battle plan. It makes you wonder
what these people are drinking.
… Still, amid all the accusing and prescribing,
Gore uttered those few words about the president's “inherent power”
to take “unilateral action” during an emergency. No matter
what else he said, Gore flatly declared that the president has the inherent
authority to do what he believes is necessary to defend the country. While
the crowd sat on its hands â€” what's he saying? â€” the statement shouldn't
have been a surprise. Gore is, after all, the former vice president of an administration
that claimed the inherent authority to order national-security break-ins without
a warrant. Even when the administration supported placing such break-ins under
FISA restrictions, it still claimed the inherent authority to do them unilaterally,
if the president thought necessary. (See here and here .) So it's worth noting
that Gore, like other Clinton-administration officials, did not say that President
Bush does not have the authority to order warrantless surveillance targeted
at al Qaeda communications. Rather, his complaint seems to be that Bush has
done too much of that sort of thing for too long, which Gore claims has produced
“a serious imbalance in the relationship between the executive and the
other two branches of government.” … The
Sorry, Byron, but it's just bull. I know it's tough for conservatives
to read through all the facts and realities Gore heaped on the president, but
someone on your side really needs to do it, especially since it hit home and all of America is now talking about it.
Cherry picking parts of history in order to attempt to make President
Clinton's legal actions look like George W. Bush's illegal wiretapping
by ignoring the facts isn't going to work this time.
Stay on the story, people. Email stories you like, support
this site by sending out posts that drive the point home. It's time for a little
21st century Paul Revere action. Get involved and stay involved.
… … This
legal theory, which its proponents call the theory of the unitary executive
but which is more accurately described as the unilateral executive, threatens
to expand the president's powers until the contours of the constitution that
the Framers actually gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition. Under
this theory, the President's authority when acting as Commander-in-Chief or
when making foreign policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked
by Congress. President Bush has pushed the implications of this idea to its
maximum by continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief, invoking
it has frequently as he can, conflating it with his other roles, domestic
and foreign. When added to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state
of war, the implications of this theory stretch quite literally as far into
the future as we can imagine.
This effort to rework America's carefully balanced
constitutional design into a lopsided structure dominated by an all powerful
Executive Branch with a subservient Congress and judiciary is-ironically-accompanied
by an effort by the same administration to rework America's foreign policy
from one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority into one that is
based on a misguided and self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the
The President and I agree on one thing. The threat
from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no question that we continue
to face new challenges in the wake of the attack on September 11th and that
we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.
Where we disagree is that we have to break
the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism.
In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable.