I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail. [...] Those who by their votes today confer immunity on the President for the same crimes do violence to the core principle that we are all entitled to equal justice under law. [...]
Moreover, I agree with the view of Judge Griffin Bell, President Jimmy Carter's Attorney General and a former Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Judge Bell has stated: `A President cannot faithfully execute the laws if he himself is breaking them.' [...]
Although ill-defined, censure is a process of Congressional reprimand--the political equivalent of a strongly-worded letter. In 1834, a Whig Senate "censured" Democratic President Andrew Jackson in retaliation for his withholding documents. Three years later, a Democratic Senate "expunged" the censure from the record. However, that act of censure had no basis in either the Constitution or the Rules of the House and Senate. This remains true today. Ordinarily, Congressional disapproval of the President is relayed either through its legislative power including the veto override power or through impeachment.
Presumably, censure of the President would take the form of a resolution adopted by both the House and Senate and then publicly announced. Legally, the resolution would have no effect. Censure derives from the formal condemnation by either the House or the Senate in rebuke of a Member of their own body. After a majority vote, the Member is publicly denounced, but still retains the position of Representative or Senator. However, the House removes the offending Member from any leadership positions in committees or sub-committees.
§ 1801. Definitions
Release date: 2005-03-17
As used in this subchapter:
(a) “Foreign power” means—
(1) a foreign government or any component thereof, whether or not recognized by the United States;
(2) a faction of a foreign nation or nations, not substantially composed of United States persons;
(3) an entity that is openly acknowledged by a foreign government or governments to be directed and controlled by such foreign government or governments;
(4) a group engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor;
(5) a foreign-based political organization, not substantially composed of United States persons; or
(6) an entity that is directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments.
(dios quote) "The argument goes that wiretapping is also a natural incident of war. Which is why it is a relatively gray area."
That's an interesting thought, dios. I would suppose that there is a way of looking at it which might help: from the point of view of the writers of the Constitution, taking into consideration the communications technology of their times.
Was opening and examining written personal mail a "natural incident of war" in terms of foreign intelligence gathering, around the turn of the 19th Century? Would Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton have considered as proper and appropriate during wartime the interception and reading of letters posted between suspected supporters of the Crown and recipients in England?
If there is precedent for this, for instance during the War of 1812, or perhaps even more to point the matter of piracy committed by ships from Tripoli (against whom Commodore Preble and the USS Constitution figured so prominently), then the gray area could be eliminated.
Intercepting enemy communications can certainly be considered a natural incident of war. It's one of the primary activities of foreign intelligence. If this has been a long-term practice of the US Government during times of foreign threat, then wiretapping may indeed be permissible, and dios has a valid point.
However, I think we need to specifically consider written letters posted by mail, as that method of communication most closely resembles telephone communication in that it is a "sealed," private conversation between two parties. Of course our intelligence services have intercepted lots of radio and radio-like transmissions, but these are broadcast through the air and can often be received by anyone listening on the proper frequency. That's not similar to a phone conversation where (it used to be that) a single wire conduit directly connects the two parties. Posted letters represent a similar system, just much much slower.
I really hate to advance this argument since it goes against my personal feelings on the matter, which are based on the Nixon affair. In that, Nixon was demonstrably spying on people with no foreign intelligence interest involved, and FISA was passed to take care of that. Now the matter isn't so clear, but I still believe that given any gray area, the decision should fall toward individual rights.
And after all, there is a court specifically designed to handle such intel requests, which was not availed of - and that speaks volumes to me about the intent of the Administration. Something smells bad there.
"To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof."
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