Saturday, December 17, 2005

In which I copy-edit the New York Times (High Crimes and Misdemeanors edition)

Bushipod-ViIn Speech, Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying:
"I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related groups," the president said.
As previously discussed, this program is illegal, so a superior headline is "In Speech, Bush pledges to continue illegal program." They told us he authorized it yesterday, so that's no longer the headline.

It's worth wondering who knew about this before the Times became aware of it, since the story points out that Alberto Gonzales reviewed it as White House Counsel, as did Harriet Miers when she took over that office.

Placing Gonzales in a position to review the matter as AG was one way to protect himself, and putting Miers in a place to review it on the Court would give another avenue to safety.

As a constituent of Senator Roberts, I want to know if he is among the "Congressional leaders" Bush notified of the program. If not, why wasn't the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee notified, and if so, why didn't he see fit to protect basic American liberties?

His office number is 202-224-4774, his office in Dodge City can be reached at 620-227-2244. Other contact info is here.

If Bush could review the program every 45 days, he could damn well let a court review it as required by law.

When the president knowingly breaks the law, that's a high crime.

(a) Prohibited activities

A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally—

(1) engages in electronic surveillance under color of law except as authorized by statute; or

(2) discloses or uses information obtained under color of law by electronic surveillance, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through electronic surveillance not authorized by statute.
What that means is that not only is the president apparently guilty of a federal felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and 5 years in jail, but he exposed any federal prosecutor who used information obtained under this program to similar penalties.

Furthermore, he and anyone who carried out his illegal orders are subject to civil liability of $100/day plus punitive damages and legal fees.

But, alas, the president is generally considered immune from prosecution while in office. That leaves only his subordinates to impoverish and imprison, hardly satisfying or just.

There's a reason John Dean called Bush worse than Nixon. He is. When Nixon used the NSA to spy on American citizens, he was operating in a gray area. Bush looked at valid law and chose to ignore it. It's no different than if he decided to send FBI agents to take naked pictures of you for his personal amusement.

The Peeping Tom in Chief.

Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads from the album The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (1982, 4:54).

We got computers,
We're tapping phone lines.
I know that that ain't allowed.