Elizabeth de la Vega has a great article (via TomDispatch) on the Bush Administration's infinite spin loop regarding the illegal NSA domestic spying program. It's certainly worth a read -- and she hammers the idiocy of "we have been repeatedly breaking the law, but we'd like you to amend it so our illegal behavior won't be so illegal in the future."
If you have any doubt that the NSA spying "debate" is trapped in an infinite loop, you need only review two pieces of evidence. The first, which we'll call "Exhibit A," is an article, dated March 8, 2006, entitled "Gonzales: NSA Program Doesn't Need a Law." Aha, you say, a mere headline. But this is what the article says: "The Attorney General made clear Wednesday, March 8, that the White House is not seeking congressional action to inscribe the National Security Agency's monitoring into U.S. law."Nothing like rewarding the law breaker by making actions which violate the 4th Amendment legal for as long as our courts will uphold the law.
How, you wonder, could that be true? Since December, the President, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among others, have said that FISA is outdated, not sufficiently agile, ineffective against terrorists, and too paper-intensive. Perhaps the AP reporter misinterpreted Gonzales' remarks…
I now refer you to Exhibit B -- a February 28, 2006 letter from Alberto Gonzales to Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In answer to a question about what changes to FISA are needed, Gonzales explicitly says, "The Administration believes it is unnecessary to amend FISA" to accommodate the spying program.
Let's review. Members of the Bush administration have admitted that they routinely ignore FISA. That does not mean, however, that they believe there's anything wrong with the law. On the contrary, the Bush administration does not think the law needs to be changed; nor does it even want the law to be changed. So every time you hear a Bush team member mention problems with FISA, all you need to do is think like a lawyer and the terms "objection.. irrelevant" will come to mind. Under the circumstances, why should Congress waste one more minute trying to amend a law the administration has no desire to see amended?
Here's the thing: if we sacrifice who we are as a nation, if we sacrifice our commitment to basic freedoms and liberty, if George Bush willfully ignores the laws, the Congress, and the judiciary and just does whatever he wants, we are no longer the America that we have fought for centuries to protect and uphold.
And if we are no longer an America fully committed to our principles, then who is really winning?
UPDATE: Georgia10 has more on why the President is not a king, and why his authority is not plenary when confronted with laws passed by Congress.