Since the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday abdicated its responsibility to act as a co-equal branch of government with the executive, it's time again to consider the results of having an admitted felon as President.
Under ordinary circumstances, of course, such an eventuality would have led to an investigation of some sort (and of course, if the crime involved had been lying about oral sex, impeachment!). However, in the brave new world of complete Republican control of every branch of government, this only happens when Democrats are the target. Therefore, instead of investigating and/or impeaching the President, Senator Mike DeWine has proposed legislation that would make the crime legal!
According to DeWine, the bill would allow surveillance of international calls that involve a suspected terrorist but would require a program review every 45 days.
At that time, the administration would have three options: apply for a warrant, if there is enough information to justify one; stop the surveillance; or explain to Congress why it is in the national security interest to continue the surveillance and why officials cannot apply to the FISA court for a warrant.
According to NPR this morning, the proposed legislation would require the administration to seek a warrant only when there was evidence of criminal wrongdoing (i.e., when you have to use it in a court later on). Absent such evidence, however, no warrant is required.
Please ponder that for a moment. I'll wait........
Yes, that's right. You've got it: This means that if you're innocent, the government can spy on you, potentially in perpetuity, with no warrant and no notice. Only the guilty get the protection of the constitution under this law. If you commit no crime, the government has no obligation to honor your privacy or liberty. On the other hand, if you're a terrorist suspect, the government must seek a warrant to spy on you.
The moral, legal, and political incoherence of this proposed legislation is utterly mind-boggling! The implciation is that the government can launch a wholesale domestic spying program that sweeps up in its net every man, woman, child, dog and cat in the United States, listen in on all of their conversations, and needs only to seek a warrant if they want to take you to court.
Of course, given that the Senate refuses to investigate, and the executive refuses to cooperate, for all we know that could be what we're dealing with already.
Let's remind ourselves once again what the state of the law was before the President decided that he was a law unto himself. Prior to the beginning of this program, if you were suspected of involvement with a terrorist plot, and law enforcement believed that it needed to tap your commications right now in order to get crucial information (can't wait for a warrant!), it was allowed to do so for up to 72 hours before seeking a warrant. The administration's "need to act with haste" argument has been bogus from the beginning. Now, they seek to codify that disingenuousness in a law that undermines two hundred years of traditional American liberty. It completely vacates the Fourth Amendment, and permits unlimited spying on people on the basis of absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing!
I ask: Wasn't it simpler and more just when we needed a warrant to spy on anybody, and you needed to provide evidence to get a warrant? As things stand now, the right of every American to simply be left alone by its government is in grave danger, and there is no branch of government willing to stand up to the untrammelled power grab of the Bush administration.
Im. Peach. Him!