The crux of the NSA spying smoke screen

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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What keeps coming out of this for me is that the Bush admin claims that Congress was kept informed, and that this qualified as Congressional oversight. However, since those same members were sworn to secrecy, they would be committing treason should they act to disclose, hence act on any of that information. So, in a nutshell, the claim is that the concept of oversight by Congress does not imply that Congress may act against abuses of power, and since the world is too complicated, the Judicial branch can have no say in the matter.

Did you see any of the testimony yesterday?

This all seems pretty clear to me. How can anyone see this as anything but a simple con job? Clearly, avoidance of oversight is an objective. And isn't this clearly in violation of the most basic concepts of our form of government?
 
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  • #2
SOS2008
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Ivan Seeking said:
What keeps coming out of this for me is that the Bush admin claims that Congress was kept informed, and that this qualified as Congressional oversight. However, since those same members were sworn to secrecy, they would be committing treason should they act to disclose, hence act on any of that information. So, in a nutshell, the claim is that the concept of oversight by Congress does not imply that Congress may act against abuses of power, and since the world is too complicated, the Judicial branch can have no say in the matter.

Did you see any of the testimony yesterday?

This all seems pretty clear to me. How can anyone see this as anything but a simple con job? Clearly, avoidance of oversight is an objective. And isn't this clearly in violation of the most basic concepts of our form of government?
As you say, having a few members of Congress sworn to secrecy under threat of treason does not constitute Congressional oversight. Also completely ignoring the FISA court system means there has been no judicial oversight. This is obviously abuse of power by the Executive branch.

The update:

SENATORS SEEKING to learn more about the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance of Americans didn't get much satisfaction yesterday from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. During a day-long hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Gonzales repeated the administration's legal defense of the spying by the National Security Agency but provided few answers to the basic questions about the program.

…Fortunately, a bipartisan group of senators expressed the view that the warrantless surveillance is either legally or politically untenable as currently practiced. While agreeing that intelligence agencies should have the authority to monitor suspected al Qaeda communications both in and outside the United States, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sens. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), among others, pressed Mr. Gonzales to consider reforms. Mr. Specter suggested that President Bush submit the entire NSA program to FISA's secret court for review; Mr. DeWine and Mr. Brownback urged the administration to work with Congress on a revision to the FISA statute that would allow spying to be conducted under that law, with the checks and balances it provides.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/06/AR2006020601450.html


Gonzales declined to answer numerous questions Monday on the grounds that the answers are classified, including how many communications involving U.S. citizens have been intercepted without warrants or what constitutes terrorist ties.

He maintains that bypassing the court is within President Bush's inherent constitutional power as commander in chief. Bush and Gonzales have argued that Congress allowed for it when lawmakers authorized Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against Al Qaeda and those who harbored or assisted it--a vote that came three days after the suicide hijackings and opened the door to invade Afghanistan.

`That just defies logic'

Specter and others balked at the claim.

"That just defies logic and plain English," Specter said
, adding the FISA law contains "a blanket prohibition against any electronic surveillance without a court order."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), once an Air Force lawyer, also expressed doubt about the program's legal basis, as did Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).

Graham said he never intended to give Bush "the ability to go around FISA carte blanche" when he voted to invade Afghanistan. He also said Gonzales' argument that Bush has the necessary constitutional power "could basically neuter the Congress and weaken the courts" if taken to its logical conclusion.

Specter urged the administration to allow the FISA court to review the program. He also asked Gonzales to provide key details during a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0602070140feb07,1,5202563.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed [Broken]

Thankfully the old right wing "if P then Q" logic doesn't seem to be working on these Senators. It has worked even less on lawyers and other constitution experts. Someone should tell Bush (Rove) that these propaganda tactics only work on the ignorant masses.
 
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  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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It would seem that the Bush admin's view of the Constitution is it defines a system based on trust.

IIRC, the Constitution is specifically based on distrust; correct? In fact this is exactly why oversight is required.
 
  • #4
selfAdjoint
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Ivan Seeking said:
It would seem that the Bush admin's view of the Constitution is it defines a system based on trust.

IIRC, the Constitution is specifically based on distrust; correct? In fact this is exactly why oversight is required.
Absolutely correct. The framers foresaw that people like Bush - "tyrants", they called them - would arise, with slimy courtiers to do their bidding. And they tried to "program around" that expected human flaw.

Congress, as well as the administration, is at fault in the NSA business, and the torture, and the preemptive attack on another country, for letting it get this far.
 
  • #5
Amp1
Premonition: Bushco tries to 'sideline' the Constitution by claiming it's obsolete and outdated; this is a tactic Gonzales has already used on the Geneva Convention when giving Bush a quasi-legal argument to torture.
 
  • #6
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Amp1 said:
Premonition: Bushco tries to 'sideline' the Constitution by claiming it's obsolete and outdated; this is a tactic Gonzales has already used on the Geneva Convention when giving Bush a quasi-legal argument to torture.
*puts on tin foil hat*
Well, now that the supreme court is packed with a 5 judge majority that will give bush almost anything he wants, perhaps Bush will claim some crap about needed to remain in office in 08 and the supreme course will agree (Stevens is the only reasonable one in the group of 5, but he is old... who knows what will happen with him)
 
  • #7
SOS2008
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ComputerGeek said:
*puts on tin foil hat*
Well, now that the supreme court is packed with a 5 judge majority that will give bush almost anything he wants, perhaps Bush will claim some crap about needed to remain in office in 08 and the supreme course will agree (Stevens is the only reasonable one in the group of 5, but he is old... who knows what will happen with him)
Bush rewriting the constitution, maybe suspending elections, maybe imposing martial law, NO, not Bush! That was probably the original plan, which was probably based on plans for additional wars in countries like Iran.

The U.S, has always been divided almost in half against BushCo, but with control of all the branches of government and intense secrecy, they could do as they pleased. However, unforeseen events, such as Katrina (the hand of God! :wink: ) threw a wrench in things. Now Bush’s popularity is at an all time low, and support for the invasion of Iraq even lower. GOP leaders in congress won’t rock the boat at this time, especially going into 2006 midterm elections.

The worry will be after that time -- There will be more Dems, but will there be enough? The scariest possibility of all would be the announcement of candidacy by Jeb for the 2008 presidential elections. If the Bush dynasty continues, so will the push toward a police state. :eek:

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for impeachment proceedings before 2008, after which Cheney will have a heart attack, and anti-minority Republicans become scared that we will have a black female president…
 
  • #8
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SOS2008 said:
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for impeachment proceedings before 2008, after which Cheney will have a heart attack, and anti-minority Republicans become scared that we will have a black female president…
I am getiing a bit off topic here, but I see a scenario where Cheney resigns because of his health and A certain Governor from Florida is appointed to fill the slot.
In 2008 an incubent vice president then runs for the WhiteHouse.

Getting back to the topic: Whoever it is that runs this administration has very cleverly used covert methods to keep congress overtly bypassed. This administration has already defrauded the people with the WMD fiasco. Now we find that they have conspired to defraud the Congress.

No one conspires to do something unless they have a motive that is not within the law. And they sure as hell didn't need a conspiracy to protect the American people from Al Qaida.
 
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  • #9
SOS2008
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edward said:
I am getiing a bit off topic here, but I see a scenario where Cheney resigns because of his health and A certain Governor from Florida is appointed to fill the slot.

In 2008 an incubent vice president then runs for the WhiteHouse.

Getting back to the topic: Whoever it is that runs this administration has very cleverly used covert methods to keep congress overtly bypassed. This administration has already defrauded the people with the WMD fiasco. Now we find that they have conspired to defraud the Congress.

No one conspires to do something unless they have a motive that is not within the law. And they sure as hell didn't need a conspiracy to protect the American people from Al Qaida.
If it can be proven that Bush has acted illegally--at the minimum in regard to NSA spying (not to mention lying to Congress about WMD, or relations with Abramoff)--the "i" word is on topic. To address the matter of succession:

Although the Constitution's framers kept their intentions about presidential succession shrouded in ambiguity, they left no doubt about vice-presidential succession. There was to be none. "n the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of the President of the United States" the Senate would simply choose a president pro tempore.

…after the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the resulting vice-presidential vacancy, Congress debated what became the second constitutional amendment related to the structure of the vice-presidency. In 1967, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, addressing presidential vacancy and disability, became part of our Constitution.

The amendment states that the president may appoint a vice president to fill a vacancy in that office, subject to approval by both houses of Congress.
http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Vice_President.htm

We could request that some of these posts be split off to start a new thread about the lack of an incumbent (Cheney) running in 2008, which is historically interesting -- And possible continuation of the Bush dynasty via Jeb (or maybe later George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush), etc. I would like to believe that in the event of impeachment (i.e., indictment resulting in removal from office) of Dubya, an appointment of Jeb would be unpopular and not approved.
 
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  • #10
russ_watters
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SOS2008 said:
Bush rewriting the constitution, maybe suspending elections, maybe imposing martial law, NO, not Bush! That was probably the original plan, which was probably based on plans for additional wars in countries like Iran.
Lemme get this straight - you think it is a real possibility that Bush intends to sieze dictatorial power?

Regarding incumbent VPs - that's not really an issue because being an incumbent VP is less of a stepping-stone to the Presidency than being a governor is.

One thing about Bush that shouldn't really be in doubt is his motivation - because he wears his heart on his sleave. He may well have violated the law here (certainly, at the very least, he circumvented it), but he did it because he thought it was necessary for the protection of the country. That (and the Republican Congress, of course...) is what will likely prevent him from being impeached over it.
 
  • #11
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He may well have violated the law here (certainly, at the very least, he circumvented it), but he did it because he thought it was necessary for the protection of the country.
I don't see how you can trivialize breaking the law by a president. That is the one thing that our government must uphold. Thats a terrible rationalization. How many laws can he break before it becomes unacceptable russ?

One thing about Bush that shouldn't really be in doubt is his motivation - because he wears his heart on his sleave.
No, not quite. Look at how he acts like he has never 'personally met' abramoff. He acts as if he has just 'heard' of him, but never met him. Yeah, right, sure Mr. Bush. :uhh:


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10987915/from/RSS/

Ok, when someone gives you over 100k+ for your campain, you take the time to know the guy. And the way this guy had his hands so deep in washington, im certain bush knew him.
 
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  • #12
selfAdjoint
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What do you mean intends, Russ? As far as I can see he believes he already has dictatorial powers as Commander In Chief During Wartime, which wartime is defined to last from now till whenever they decide it's over. And trial without judge or jury; can you say "Star Chamber?"

What would Madison have said to that? Or Jay, or Jefferson or even Hamilton?
 
  • #13
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They would say this:

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security"
"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither"
"If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both."
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
 
  • #14
SOS2008
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russ_watters said:
Lemme get this straight - you think it is a real possibility that Bush intends to sieze dictatorial power?
Yes, him and others in his administration who influence him. If Bush thought he could change the rules so he could run for a third term, you know he would. His drawback at the moment is lack of popularity, so re-election is unlikely anyway—at this time.
russ_watters said:
Regarding incumbent VPs - that's not really an issue because being an incumbent VP is less of a stepping-stone to the Presidency than being a governor is.
So all these elections after the final term is served, in which the VP becomes the front runner, are of no consequence? I’m taking this from election analysis/expert discussions in the news, etc.
russ_watters said:
One thing about Bush that shouldn't really be in doubt is his motivation - because he wears his heart on his sleave. He may well have violated the law here (certainly, at the very least, he circumvented it), but he did it because he thought it was necessary for the protection of the country. That (and the Republican Congress, of course...) is what will likely prevent him from being impeached over it.
One of the problems with America is that many Americans are not good judges of character, or very discerning—that’s why there are so many victims of con jobs. Especially the religious right, many of who are taken in everyday by Evangelists, while others knowingly turn a blind eye with hopes of making abortion illegal.

Bush appears to be unwavering, especially since repetition is a propaganda tactic he uses heavily. He is unwavering in his agenda, even “stubborn.” But he constantly changes positions and rhetoric in order to achieve the agenda. I would suggest that people look at the written record. See what Bush says at one point in time, seemingly with all the conviction in the world (as habitual liars can do so well—because they actually believe it as they say it), and compare this to statements made latter. You will see complete flip-flops. IMO Bush does have certain qualities, most notably loyalty to those who support him, but in his case it is terribly misguided.

In any event, if Bush is not impeached it will be because of people with your mindset who feel Bush is above the law. Yet every lowly American knows that ignorance of the law (or good intentions :rolleyes: ) does not excuse them from repercussions for breaking the law.
 
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  • #15
russ_watters
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cyrusabdollahi said:
I don't see how you can trivialize breaking the law by a president. That is the one thing that our government must uphold. Thats a terrible rationalization. How many laws can he break before it becomes unacceptable russ?
Sometimes there are conflicts between the "letter" and "spirit" of the law. I heard once (perhaps on Law and Order :uhh: ) that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact." In my personal opinion, the fact that as of yet there has been no allegation of actual abuse (ie, wiretapping political oponents for personal gain) matters.

We'll just have to wait and see how this plays-out, though.
 
  • #16
russ_watters
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selfAdjoint said:
What do you mean intends, Russ?
Ie, the part about stopping the next election. That's pretty out there. I didn't buy it when people said it about Clinton either.
And trial without judge or jury; can you say "Star Chamber?"
I'm not sure what you are referring to - the 'Gitmo thing?? There haven't been any tribunals yet, afaik (and such a thing can hardly be regarded as not having a jury or judge).
What would Madison have said to that? Or Jay, or Jefferson or even Hamilton?
What would they have said about Lincoln (or worse, FDR)? Perhaps they would have said that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" and Lincoln did what he needed to do to preserve the union.
 
  • #17
russ_watters
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SOS2008 said:
Yes, him and others in his administration who influence him. If Bush thought he could change the rules so he could run for a third term, you know he would.
Wow, ok - just wanted to be clear on what you believe. But please don't tell me what I know: I, in fact, think the idea is laughably absurd. It is very similar to the conspiracy theory that went around about Clinton using his reform of FEMA to sieze dictatorial power via the y2k crisis.
So all these elections after the final term is served, in which the VP becomes the frontrunner, are of no consequence? I’m taking this from election analysis/expert discussions in the news, etc.
?? I'm sure those analysts would point out that only 1 of the last 5 Presidents were former VPs. How did Mondale do? Gore? Quayle? Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II were all governors.
Bush appears to be unwavering, especially since repetition is a propaganda tactic he uses heavily. He is unwavering in his agenda, even “stubborn.” But he constantly changes positions and rhetoric in order to achieve the agenda. I would suggest that people look at the written record. See what Bush says at one point in time, seemingly with all the conviction in the world (as habitual liars can do so well—because they actually believe it as they say it), and compare this to statements made latter. You will see complete flip-flops. IMO Bush does have certain qualities, most notably loyalty to those who support him, but in his case it is terribly misguided.
As I have often pointed out, if you read the speech Bush gave just prior to going to war with Iraq, all the reasons we hear now are in there. Yes, even the 'freeing the Iraqi people' thing. That common liberal claim about Bush is just flat-wrong.
In any event, if Bush is not impeached it will be because of people with your mindset who feel Bush is above the law. What I am saying is that sometimes the law can be inadequate, or even wrong. And I'm sure you all can think of historical examples of those.
I did not say, nor do I believe that Bush is above the law. I do believe that there are times when the law is inadequate, or even wrong. And I'm sure you all can think of historical examples of both.
Yet every lowly American knows that ignorance of the law (or good intentions :rolleyes: ) does not excuse them from repercussions for breaking the law.
Next time you get pulled over for speeding try one of those two tactics. They do often work because they do matter.
 
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  • #18
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Sometimes there are conflicts between the "letter" and "spirit" of the law.
How? The law SPECIFICIALLY SAID the president MUST get approval from fisa courts. And only 18 out of how many thousand have ever been turned down. Thats utter crap on the presidents part. There is no excuse for breaking the law when the law is actually in his favor .

In my personal opinion, the fact that as of yet there has been no allegation of actual abuse (ie, wiretapping political oponents for personal gain) matters.
Oh, but there has. His arrogant thinking that he is above the law. That is far worse than spying on political opponents.

What would they have said about Lincoln (or worse, FDR)? Perhaps they would have said that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" and Lincoln did what he needed to do to preserve the union.
We put the Japps in prison camps in the 40's to 'preserve the union.' Do you see the slippery slope you stand on when you use that kind of rationalization russ?

EDIT to your EDIT:

I did not say, nor do I believe that Bush is above the law. I do believe that there are times when the law is inadequate, or even wrong. And I'm sure you all can think of historical examples of both.
That does NOT mean you disreguard the law if its wrong or inadequate. You have to CHANGE the law. If you dont change it, your still breaking it, not matter how 'bad' they seem. Until it has been changed, you are breaking the law .
 
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  • #19
russ_watters
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Cyrus, the "spirit" of the law in this case is in the why. The law exists to prevent infringing on the rights of ordinary citizens by unjustly monitoring their phone calls and so far there have been no actual allegations of that.
 
  • #20
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You mean, there have been no actual cases that have been made public . There is a difference russ. You simply DON'T let the government abuse power for the simple sake that nothing bad has happened, yet . Once the *&^$ hits the fan, it will spray all over the place, and it will cause people to question if we can trust our own government to spy on normal citizens.

the "spirit" of the law in this case is in the why
I don't understand what your trying to say.
 
  • #21
SOS2008
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russ_watters said:
Wow, ok - just wanted to be clear on what you believe. But please don't tell me what I know: I, in fact, think the idea is laughably absurd. It is very similar to the conspiracy theory that went around about Clinton using his reform of FEMA to sieze dictatorial power via the y2k crisis.
Wow, there’s a HUGE difference. Aside from election irregularities in 2000 and 2004 that have prompted a lot of controversy resulting in efforts for election reform, the Washington Post published an editorial on July 14, headlined “Tuesday in November” about the Bush administration’s review of possible actions to suspend the 2004 elections in the event of a major terrorist attack inside the United States. Laugh all you want.
russ_watters said:
As I have often pointed out, if you read the speech Bush gave just prior to going to war with Iraq, all the reasons we hear now are in there. Yes, even the 'freeing the Iraqi people' thing. That common liberal claim about Bush is just flat-wrong.
Like I said, if you look at the written record you will see (unless you're blinded by party affiliation) constant contradiction. YOU do the homework--we've already posted many conflicting "then and now" quotes in the many threads here in PF.
russ_watters said:
I did not say, nor do I believe that Bush is above the law. I do believe that there are times when the law is inadequate, or even wrong. And I'm sure you all can think of historical examples of both. Next time you get pulled over for speeding try one of those two tactics. They do often work because they do matter.
Perhaps on a rare occasion, yes. But Bush has behaved outside the law repeatedly, and I have seen a pattern in your argumentation as well, whether for the greater good or what have you, always rationalizing and defending the actions of BushCo. High crimes against one’s country and people are hardly on par with a traffic ticket.
 
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  • #22
turbo
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russ_watters said:
Sometimes there are conflicts between the "letter" and "spirit" of the law. I heard once (perhaps on Law and Order :uhh: ) that "the Constitution is not a suicide pact." In my personal opinion, the fact that as of yet there has been no allegation of actual abuse (ie, wiretapping political oponents for personal gain) matters.

We'll just have to wait and see how this plays-out, though.
The "letter" and the "spirit" of the law are both broken by this administration. The FISA court allows the administration to spy on anybody in the US for a period of 72 hours before seeking permission to do the spying. Bush (actually Rove & Cheney, since they call all the shots) has decided that the FISA law as crafted and passed by Congress, and as interpreted by the Judiciary does not apply to him, just as he has decided that the laws against torture do not apply to his administration. He signed the anti-torture bill that McCain sponsored, but at the same time signed a document of intent that said that that the bill had no binding legal force on him. King George should be impeached now, along with the VP, AG, and the Secretary of State.
 
  • #23
Ivan Seeking
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russ_watters said:
Wow, ok - just wanted to be clear on what you believe. But please don't tell me what I know: I, in fact, think the idea is laughably absurd.
There were those who wanted to change the Constitution in order to get one man elected - an actor, and not even a good one! Of course I mean Arnold. I see this as no less an offense against this nation. So I find it very easy to believe. In fact, much of what Bush has already done is much worse.
 
  • #24
SOS2008
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turbo-1 said:
The "letter" and the "spirit" of the law are both broken by this administration. The FISA court allows the administration to spy on anybody in the US for a period of 72 hours before seeking permission to do the spying. Bush (actually Rove & Cheney, since they call all the shots) has decided that the FISA law as crafted and passed by Congress, and as interpreted by the Judiciary does not apply to him, just as he has decided that the laws against torture do not apply to his administration. He signed the anti-torture bill that McCain sponsored, but at the same time signed a document of intent that said that that the bill had no binding legal force on him. King George should be impeached now, along with the VP, AG, and the Secretary of State.
Thanks turbo-1 for that extremely relevant information.

Bush Flouts McCain Anti-Torture Law
by John W. Whitehead1/16/2006

Shortly after signing into law this year’s Defense Appropriations Bill, which included the McCain Amendment forbidding the torture of detainees by all U.S. personnel regardless of the physical location of the detainee, President Bush issued a “signing statement”—which is an official position by the President that pronounces his interpretation of a new law. In this instance, Bush’s signing statement declared that he views the new torture law to be limited by his “inherent authority” as commander-in-chief to protect the national security of America.
http://www.rutherford.org/articles_db/commentary.asp?record_id=383

I AM EVEN MORE APPALLED, and so should you all!!! How can anyone excuse Bush’s intent, when Bush “views the new torture law to be limited by his 'inherent authority' as commander-in-chief" otherwise...as dictator?! This is the same as every issue in the long list of litany along with NSA spying. Excuse me while I go medicate myself…
 
  • #25
Mk
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SOS said:
Bush Flouts McCain Anti-Torture Law
by John W. Whitehead 1/16/2006

Shortly after signing into law this year’s Defense Appropriations Bill, which included the McCain Amendment forbidding the torture of detainees by all U.S. personnel regardless of the physical location of the detainee, President Bush issued a “signing statement”—which is an official position by the President that pronounces his interpretation of a new law. In this instance, Bush’s signing statement declared that he views the new torture law to be limited by his “inherent authority” as commander-in-chief to protect the national security of America.
http://www.rutherford.org/articles_d...?record_id=383
I AM EVEN MORE APPALLED, and so should you all!!! How can anyone excuse Bush’s intent, when Bush “views the new torture law to be limited by his 'inherent authority' as commander-in-chief" otherwise...as dictator?! This is the same as every issue in the long list of litany along with NSA spying. Excuse me while I go medicate myself…
What an adverse reaction!

To offer again my 2 dollars and fifty cents, I thought about it and:

a) The NSA can spy on me, I don't care. I have nothing to hide, but they won't anyway, because I am not a suspected terrorist, i.e. person who wishes all of us in the free world to go die, and will sacrifice his life to only kill twelve or so of us.
b) Its ok to "torture" Jihad-driven prisoners. Same reason, they are unchangeable, insane humans that want all of us to go and die, and he would be happy about it. It sickens me to know that someone I have never meant would wish death upon me. These people are nuts, and have been doing this for well over 1000 years.
 

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