Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Turley: It’s ‘A Very Inconvenient Fact Right Now’ To Say Bush Committed A Felony With His Wiretapping Program

ThinkProgress: Last night on MSNBC’s Coundown, George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley noted that just this week, a federal judge rejected President Bush’s claim that his “constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped” the FISA wiretapping law. Judge Vaughn Walker explicitly stated that the President is bound by FISA:
Congress appears clearly to have intended to — and did — establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted. Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities and it limits the executive branch’s authority to assert the state secrets privilege in response to challenges to the legality of its foreign intelligence surveillance activities.
In other words, when Bush contravened the FISA law by authoring warrantless wiretaps through the National Security Agency, he broke the law. Turley said last night that this is an “inconvenient fact” for many in Congress to admit:
Nobody wants to have a confrontation over the fact that the President committed a felony – not one, but at least 30 times. That’s a very inconvenient fact right now in Washington.
Bush has acknowledged that he reauthorized his illegal wiretapping program “more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks.”

Raw Story adds: MSNBC's Rachel Maddow ... expressed amazement at the sweeping victory that is being handed to President Bush. "I'm betting that his wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress -- a Democratic-led Congress -- would help him cover up his crimes," she stated. "That is exactly what the US Senate is poised to do."
In Senate debate, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) argued strongly against telecom immunity, because it would make it almost impossible to ever find out what really happened and "the American people ought to know who in the White House said, 'Go break the law.'"
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) noted that, "We're considering granting immunity when roughly 70 members of the Senate still have not been briefed on the president's wiretapping program. The vast majority of this body still does not even know what we're being asked to grant immunity for."
Maddow spoke with Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, who explained, "What the Democrats are doing here with the White House is they're trying to conceal a crime that is hiding in plain view." ...
"The Democrats have learned well from Bush," Turley said in amazement. "They're just going to change the rules. ... It's otherworldly. ... I am completely astonished by Senator Obama's position -- and obviously disappointed. All of these senators need to respect us enough not to call it a compromise. It's a cave-in."
"It's like all those stories where someone is assaulted on the street and a hundred witnesses do nothing," continued Turley. "In this case, the Fourth Amendment is going to be eviscerated tomorrow, and a hundred people are going to watch it happen because it's just not their problem. ... There's not an ounce of principle, not an ounce of public interest in this legislation."
Turley added that even though the telecoms could still be prosecuted criminally, it's unlikely to happen. "The fix is in," he concluded. "Tomorrow night, there's going to be a lot of celebrating among telecom lobbyists. ... What we will lose tomorrow, it's something very precious."
Raw Story UPDATE: On a 69-28 vote, the Senate approved an administration-backed update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act after striking down amendments to modify its immunity provision. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) voted for the FISA update, while his former primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) voted against it. Republican candidate John McCain skipped the FISA vote altogether. Opponents of legal amnesty for telecommunications companies that facilitated President Bush's extra-legal warrantless wiretapping program were dealt a decisive blow Wednesday, but advocates vowed to challenge the bill in court.
LSB: Apparently it is alright to impeach a president for lying about a blow job, but impeachment is ‘off the table’ for committing 30+ felonies. We know Bush doesn’t take his oath of office seriously, but why aren’t we holding our representatives in the House and Senate to the oaths they swore – to faithfully execute the responsibilities of their office and to the best of their ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”?

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