Since the revelation that the telecommunications companies assisted in illegal spying on domestic phone calls, a host of lawsuits have sprung up seeking damages for civil liberties violations. The Bush administration has responded by seeking the power to grant blanket immunity to criminal and civil action to the companies involved. The claim that the suits could bankrupt the companies indicates that the spying was even more widespread than previously believed; If Verizon is worth $120,000,000,000, then given the estimate of $1000 per violation, one hundred and twenty million calls were spied upon.
"Resolved that the United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, president of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans." Invoking "high crimes and misdemeanors," Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold introduces a motion to censure [PDF link] President Bush for his controversial, legally dubious NSA wiretapping program. Feingold declares: "The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law." Republican leader Frist retorts: "It's a crazy political move" that sends a "terrible" signal to Iran. Democratic bloggers say: Call your senator. [More legal fallout from the NSA program recently discussed here.]
"I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story..." President Bush really did not want journalists to reveal his NSA spying program against Americans [discussed here.] And in yesterday's rare press conference, the President said: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy, 'Here's what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts... Any public hearings on programs will say to the enemy, 'Here's what they do. Adjust.' This is a war." Neocon guru William Kristol argues that talk of Bush being an "imperial" president" is "demagogic" and "irresponsible" since "Congress has the right and the ability to judge whether President Bush has in fact used his executive discretion soundly." What is the role of "open debate" in a war against terror that may last for decades?
Strange Bedfellows fight tyranny? - Bob Barr, Dick Armey to join ACLU Quoth James Madison: (Federalist Papers #47) - "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." and Benjamin Franklin:"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." William Safire Slammed the Bush Adminstration (Nov 15) over John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program. NOW: Bob Barr, a gun-rights anti-gay firebrand conservative to join the ACLU? Dick Armey's joining as a consultant? Say that again? And Nat Hentoff reports that the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana ran a broadside called (sept. 8) "Attacks on Liberty" - "In the name of national security, President Bush, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and even Congress have pulled strand after strand out of the constitutional fabric that distinguishes the United States from other nations. . . . Actions taken over the past year are eerily reminiscent of tyranny portrayed in the most nightmarish works of fiction" MEANWHILE...an email of an editorial by right wing radio personality Chuck Baldwin, "Bush Government 'Out of Control' ("The Bush administration seems determined to turn our country into the most elaborate and sophisticated police state ever devised") first published in an online Christian Fundamentalist antiabortion newpaper is making the (right wing) rounds. It asks: "Does that mean one must leave the Republican Party in order to fight for liberty?" [antitroll protection dislaimer: most Democrats signed the Patriot Act, the principle cause of concern behind the statements and editorials linked to on this post]