Breaking the law
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.Fortunately, the Supreme Court and the US Congress both have done just that. One branch of government doesn't get to ignore the other two. And at long, long last, the Congress is realizing that something is up. After the Attorney General claimed that the names of the people who reviewed the warrantless wiretapping was classified. Congressman Snesenbrenner, who chairs the committee that oversees the Justice Department responded:
In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.
"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said.
Mr. Attorney General, how can we discharge our oversight responsibilities if every time we ask a pointed question we're told that the answer is classified?And hey, even if it were classified, the President claims he can declassify it while his staff leaks it to undermine a critic, then instantly reclassify it, if he pleases.
Congress has an inherent constitutional responsibility to do oversight. We are attempting to discharge those responsibilities. And I think that saying how the review was done and who did the review is classified is stonewalling.
And if we were to properly determine whether or not the program was legal and funded -- because that's Congress' responsibility -- we need to have answers. And we're not getting them.
Will someone, please, for the love of God, Jefferson and Hamilton, stand up for a nation of laws, not of men? There are plenty of people in the public who are doing it, but it'll be a few months before we can do jack.
Meanwhile, the people we elected to take the mantle of 1776 can and must act. Americans should not have to live in fear that the government is arbitrarily and secretly spying on them. Living in fear of terrorists is one thing. Living in fear of my own elected leadership is quite another, and I'm tired of it.