# News Greater Threat to American Democracy

## Most Dangerous Action for American Democracy

• ### Warrentless wiretaps on American citizens

• Total voters
26
• Poll closed .

#### ComputerGeek

What is the most dangerous action?

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org

#### Pengwuino

Gold Member
Why don't we toss in Nigerian trade infringments while we're at it.

No, I got a better one that is much more related to American Democracy: Congressional hearings on video game ratings. Is this thread on how we should impeach Hillary? I'm sure someone will be around soon to help you better understand, without the sarcmas, why this thread is one of the worst polls one could imagine...

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#### ComputerGeek

Pengwuino said:
Why don't we toss in Nigerian trade infringments while we're at it.

No, I got a better one that is much more related to American Democracy: Congressional hearings on video game ratings. Is this thread on how we should impeach Hillary? I'm sure someone will be around soon to help you better understand, without the sarcmas, why this thread is one of the worst polls one could imagine...
Excuse me? I took an action Clinton was impeached for, and I took an action Bush MIGHT get impeached for.

I want to see what everyone thinks.

I find it strange that you think that Warantless wire taps by the NSA on US citizens is some petty little political dispute.

#### Cyrus

I don’t like your poll; it’s got too few choices and is not worded very well. It’s tilted to bush, and as a result you will get unfair poll answers. Sorry. A threat is a treat is a threat. You are comparing shades of black. Not even shades of grey. Bad is bad, and unacceptable.

#### ComputerGeek

cyrusabdollahi said:
I don’t like your poll; it’s got too few choices and is not worded very well. It’s tilted to bush, and as a result you will get unfair poll answers. Sorry. A threat is a treat is a threat. You are comparing shades of black. Not even shades of grey. Bad is bad, and unacceptable.
I don't see how it is tilted towards Bush other than perhaps what he did is worse than what Clinton did.

but then perhaps I should have added an option for people to choose both, but I do not think that they are equal.

I was mad at clinton for Lying to the American people on live TV, to our face, but the kind of lie he told is not one that is even prosecuted on normal people (personal actions that have no relation to the investigation). I think having a both response would not do either action justice.

If you think that Clinton should have been impeached, and that Bush did nothing wrong, then why would you not vote for the clinton action?

Perhaps two more options...

Both are wrong but neither should be impeachable.

both are not wrong

#### russ_watters

Mentor
If you want to ask if Bush is worse than Clinton, just ask if Bush is worse than Clinton.

#### ComputerGeek

russ_watters said:
If you want to ask if Bush is worse than Clinton, just ask if Bush is worse than Clinton.
I changed the poll and reposted it,

#### WarrenPlatts

The question doesn't make any sense because warrantless wiretaps of American citizens who talk to foreigners on terrorist watchlists actually reduces danger to American democracy.

#### ComputerGeek

WarrenPlatts said:
The question doesn't make any sense because warrantless wiretaps of American citizens who talk to foreigners on terrorist watchlists actually reduces danger to American democracy.
It does not matter if it reduces the danger to the US material and social capitol, warrants are REQUIRED BY CONSTITUTIONAL LAW to wiretap US citizens. let alone the fact that the NSA is not allowed to do it in the first place!!

#### loseyourname

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
On the surface, neither of these actions seems to be much of a threat to democracy. Looking closer, though, if Alberto Gonzales is correct in advising Bush that he really does have the power to order a wiretap without consulting FISA, then the law itself that allows him to do that is a threat to the checks and balances inherent in the particular American brand of democracy, that is supposed to result in a limited government in which no one branch has more power than the others. When the executive can order an action, with no possibility for a check from either of the other branches, something is wrong.

Frankly, though, the comparison with Clinton seems pretty off-base to me. What he did was clearly illegal and impeachable. It's entirely possible that Gonzales is right, and what Bush is doing isn't even against the law, in which case the law needs to be stricken, but you still can't impeach a president (or really even censure him at all) if what he did was perfectly legal.

In my opinion, though, both actions set a terrible precedent, although in reality Clinton didn't truly set a precedent, since plenty of presidents had lied to legal inquiry panels before him, if not necessarily to a grand jury.

But, if he did direct the NSA to wiretap American citizens (there are no exceptions) with out going to FISA, that is a direct violation of the FISA act. Violating FISA carries a felony charge o $10,000 fine and 5 years in prison for EACH instance..... That is around 1500 years in prison if served consecutively. It is a serious deal, and unlike Clinton, the democrats did not set Bush up to break a law, Bush did it on his own. #### TheStatutoryApe ComputerGeek said: It is a serious deal, and unlike Clinton, the democrats did not set Bush up to break a law, Bush did it on his own. Who "set Clinton up"? Did someone put his pecker in that woman's mouth? Did they tell him he had to lie about it too? To say that what Bush has done is worse than anything Clinton ever did is one thing but to make Clinton out as some sort of victim on top of it is just ridiculous. #### ComputerGeek TheStatutoryApe said: Who "set Clinton up"? Did someone put his pecker in that woman's mouth? Did they tell him he had to lie about it too? To say that what Bush has done is worse than anything Clinton ever did is one thing but to make Clinton out as some sort of victim on top of it is just ridiculous. Explain to me what the entire line of questioning from Ken Star had to do with illegal deals in Arkansas that Hillary had been accused of back in the 80's. You see the set up? Get Clinton on the stand, get him to lie about something (knowing he will lie about having intimate relations like any human) and look.... you have a president breaking the law in the most technical sense there is since in reality, a prosecutor would not bother charging a grand jury witness with perjury for something like that unless it actually pertained to the prosecution of any case, or had an impact on any indictments. #### TheStatutoryApe ComputerGeek said: Explain to me what the entire line of questioning from Ken Star had to do with illegal deals in Arkansas that Hillary had been accused of back in the 80's. You see the set up? Get Clinton on the stand, get him to lie about something (knowing he will lie about having intimate relations like any human) and look.... you have a president breaking the law in the most technical sense there is since in reality, a prosecutor would not bother charging a grand jury witness with perjury for something like that unless it actually pertained to the prosecution of any case, or had an impact on any indictments. All he had to do was tell the truth, or perhaps not have done such a thing in the first place. If it had nothing to do with the case in question then object to the prosecution side tracking from the actual issue of concern. There was no need what so ever to lie. #### ComputerGeek TheStatutoryApe said: All he had to do was tell the truth, or perhaps not have done such a thing in the first place. If it had nothing to do with the case in question then object to the prosecution side tracking from the actual issue of concern. There was no need what so ever to lie. In a grade jury, the prosecutor is the person running it. There is no judge, and you can not object. Basically, you are saying that because he got a BJ from some one who was not his wife, he should have been impeached anyway. I mean, would you have the same attitude if they asked him if he liked getting it from hillary using a strap on and he lied about that? #### TheStatutoryApe ComputerGeek said: In a grade jury, the prosecutor is the person running it. There is no judge, and you can not object. So you're telling me then that in such a legal proceeding the president doesn't have recourse to any of the same rights that normal citizens have? He can't refuse to answer a question because it has nothing to do with the proceedings he is taking part in? I find that hard to believe. ComputerGeek said: Basically, you are saying that because he got a BJ from some one who was not his wife, he should have been impeached anyway. Actually I said nothing of the sort. I'd thank you not to put words in my mouth. That is a seperate matter. I think that what he did was unethical and that just about any other person who has sexual relations with an underling at their job is going to be fired. Note please that I do not think anything should be done because he cheated on his wife but because he fooled around with someone who is his subordinate in his "work place". In my state at least there are laws against such things. If this wasn't the point of the proceedings though then it should not have been brought up and Clinton should have refused to dignify the question. There is no reason for him to have lied. ComputerGeek said: I mean, would you have the same attitude if they asked him if he liked getting it from hillary using a strap on and he lied about that? Yes. Not that he should be impeached for it but that he should not lie and rather refuse to answer the question on the grounds that they have no right or reaso to ask it for the purposes of their proceedings. #### TheStatutoryApe me said: In my state at least there are laws against such things. Sorry, strike that. I checked and I think I mistook another law. In any event such things are generally firable offenses and impeachment is the process by which we fire the president. It was decided through the process that we would not in fact fire him for it and that was that. #### loseyourname Staff Emeritus Gold Member ComputerGeek said: But, if he did direct the NSA to wiretap American citizens (there are no exceptions) with out going to FISA, that is a direct violation of the FISA act. Violating FISA carries a felony charge o$10,000 fine and 5 years in prison for EACH instance..... That is around 1500 years in prison if served consecutively.
That's for a court to decide, not us. According to Gonzales, there has been other legislation passed that gives the president the power to bypass FISA. It is quite common for the provisions of one piece of legislation to violate another, in which it is a matter of figuring out which legislation takes precedence. A case like that usually isn't resolved until something like this happens to bring to light a conflict between two acts. Personally, I think Gonzales is pulling this out of his ass and will bend any ambiguous language to make is sounds like the president has whatever power he wants to have, but I'm not a federal judge or a legal expert. These things are way too technical for amateurs on an internet message board to be deciding on. About all we can say is this stinks and something, anything needs to be done to stop it. Hopefully something happens because it's obvious that Bush is still convinced that he has the legal power to order these wiretaps and is continuuing to do so.

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#### Amp1

Yeah, Gonzales was hired to do that. Remember he is the one who found the vague legal grounds for the torture of prisoners at the U.S. Gulags. The one who called the Geneva Convention obsolete.

#### ComputerGeek

loseyourname said:
That's for a court to decide, not us. According to Gonzales, there has been other legislation passed that gives the president the power to bypass FISA. It is quite common for the provisions of one piece of legislation to violate another, in which it is a matter of figuring out which legislation takes precedence. A case like that usually isn't resolved until something like this happens to bring to light a conflict between two acts. Personally, I think Gonzales is pulling this out of his ass and will bend any ambiguous language to make is sounds like the president has whatever power he wants to have, but I'm not a federal judge or a legal expert. These things are way too technical for amateurs on an internet message board to be deciding on. About all we can say is this stinks and something, anything needs to be done to stop it. Hopefully something happens because it's obvious that Bush is still convinced that he has the legal power to order these wiretaps and is continuuing to do so.
What Gonzalas says is that the war powers granted to the president to fight terrorists allow him to do this. The problem is that in that bill, and the bill for Iraq both say that in a case where FISA has jurisdiction, he must follow it.

This will all come out in the Judiciary Comity hearings.... The republicans on the JC are horse trading their votes for Alitto to make sure they get to have hearings in their comity rather than in the intelligence comity like Bush wants. This this good because at the end, the JC MUST rule as to if the president broke the law. If thy do rule in this way, the house has no choice but to start drafting articles of impeachment. in the IC, no such conclusion needs to be had, and the president has a lot more power there to cover up a lot of stuff.

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#### Amp1

It should be also noted the the WH is stonewalling and stalling the investigation. They are having pertinant staff (to put it mildly) hesitate to give information. Outright refuse to provide copies of requested documents even when such documents have nothing to do with national security. Obstructing the investigation practally any way they can.

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#### BobG

Homework Helper
TheStatutoryApe said:
Sorry, strike that.
I checked and I think I mistook another law.
In any event such things are generally firable offenses and impeachment is the process by which we fire the president. It was decided through the process that we would not in fact fire him for it and that was that.
Impeahment is not the process by which we fire a president - elections are. Impeachment can only be for crimes - specifically, "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Unfortunately, the Constitution isn't specific about whether the "misdemeanors" refer to "gross misdemeanors" (domestic assault, for example), "misdemeanors" (driving under the influence of alcohol, for example), or "petty misdemeanors" (driving over the posted speed limit, for example).

Regardless, having sex with a subordinate isn't a crime unless it's associated with illegal sexual harrassment. Perjury and obstruction of justice are crimes - that doesn't mean they necessarily meet any common sense criteria for impeachment. Just because an action technically met the letter of the law, it doesn't mean it would be a good idea to pursue the matter. You wouldn't want impeachment to be an option for bouncing checks, for example - otherwise, we would have lost a significant portion of Congress several years ago.

Perjury or obstruction of justice kind of have to be taken into the context of the seriousness of the investigation. If you outright lied in court about taking the last jelly bean, it's still perjury, but it's hard to treat the perjury any worse than the crime being investigated.

By the way, not answering would have prevented perjury, but "contempt of court" would replaced the charge of perjury and not answering could still be considered obstruction of justice. The only way Clinton could have refused to answer is by taking the Fifth Amendment (his answer might incriminate him). It's hard to take the Fifth unless the action you took was actually illegal - you can't take the Fifth just to avoid embarrassment.

The best option by Clinton would have been to admit the affair and take his lumps.

The best option by Republicans would have been to let Clinton squirm a little in public, but drop the matter before it ever got to impeachment. The impeachment of Clinton was such a gross waste of taxpayer money that it wouldn't have been totally out of line to consider charging Congress with fraud and abuse of resources.

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#### Amp1

Concise and IMO true, good post BobG. If it is found that the current CinC violated the FISA law would that be a 'High crime and/or misdemeanor? Is knowingly giving false information to the american people and congress a HC and/or misdemeanor? If it was done to justify and prosecute a war where thousands of american GIs are killed or put in harms way, is that a HCAM?

#### Gokul43201

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Here's what George W. Bush had to say about wiretaps, back in April 2004 (we now know this was nearly 2 years after the "warrantless" wiretapping was authorized) :

Bush said:
So the first thing I want you to think about is, when you hear Patriot Act, is that we changed the law and the bureaucratic mind-set to allow for the sharing of information. It's vital. And others will describe what that means.

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040420-2.html [Broken]

Anyone surprised ?

(PS : More importantly, does Bush's own denial of warrantless wiretaps do anything to the legal ramifications ?)

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#### Amp1

Nope, he probably thought that the policy of secrecy his admin has instituted, the 'under the cloak of secrecy' scheming and abuse of power would never come to light. lol

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