Letter to the Editor: President broke the law
On Dec. 16, 2005, the New York Times released a shocking story sating that the president illegally authorized the National Security agency to spy and eavesdrop on Americans. This firestorm of controversy is now being touted by Carl Rove and his neo-cons to be a perfectly legal endeavor by the president, and he was simply doing it to "protect the American people from terrorists."
The fourth amendment of the constitution explicitly protects American citizens against "illegal search and seizure" and requires the executive branch to obtain a warrant from the judicial branch if they want to "spy" or "eavesdrop" on suspected terrorists. After disclosing information to the press about the illegal spying operation, Bush defended his actions by saying, "This is a different war. It's a war where people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. This is, it takes quick action." What he, Rove, and other neo-cons would lead you to believe is that it's a lengthy process to obtain warrants when Al Qaeda could be plotting more destruction; however, this is simply untrue.
Domestic spying warrants are granted by secret courts created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and in FISA courts; permission is granted by obtaining a search warrant from the justice department. What Bush, Rover, and others will neglect to tell the American people is, that they can immediately conduct surveillance when deemed necessary for America's safety, and then apply for a warrant from the courts up to three days later. Failing to report on this, when the truth is known, they'll assert that their requests would be denied even if they applied for a warrant to the justice department, retroactively. Wrong again. As John Marshall revealed, the government's own data clearly shows that in the last 25 years, out of more than 15,000 request for warrant applications, only four have been rejected.
Moreover, during the last two years, the Bush administration has "authorized" the FBI to collect information on the activities of anti-war groups, anti-abortion groups, and environmental groups. Is this because people involved in these organizations are suspected Al Qaeda members, or terrorists, or is it because, like a growing number of disgruntled Americans, these people are becoming concerned over Bush doctrine and policy?
If the Senate and the House of Representatives allow this abuse of power to go unchallenged without checks and balances on "presidential power," why have a fourth amendment if they're granted permission by the Congress and the American people to blatantly disregard our constitution? The fact remains, that this administration has broken the law and, like any illegal undertaking that's detected and admitted to, Bush should have to face the consequence of his unlawful activity in exactly the same manner as any other law breaker. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) recently said, "No president is above the law. We are a nation of laws and no president, majority leader, or chief justice of the Supreme Court can unilaterally or arbitrarily avoid a law or dismiss a law." If the American people and Congress allow this illegal conduct to go unpunished, then may God help us all.