PRESIDENT NOT ABOVE THE LAW
Dec. 20, 2005
Democrats and Republicans in Congress are fuming over the
revelation that President George W. Bush secretly authorized
domestic eavesdropping without court approval. Senators Russell
Feingold (D-Wis.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) said they intend to
hold hearings on the matter.
For the record, we owe Senator Feingold a debt of appreciation for
how he single-handedly (at first) stood up against a broadside
assault against our Bill of Rights in the form of the USA Patriot
Act which was passed by the Republican-controlled House of
Representatives and was (and still is) intensely lobbied for by the
White House. Feingold's stubborn resistance to the Patriot Act was
rewarded last week when senators from both parties rallied in
sufficient numbers to support his filibuster, thus stopping the
Patriot Act (for the moment) dead in its tracks. Thank you, Senator
In commenting on President Bush's decision to unilaterally issue
domestic eavesdropping orders, Feingold said, "The president has,
I think, made up a law that we never passed." Senator Specter said,
"They talk about constitutional authority. There are limits as to
what the president can do."
Other senators weighed in on the subject, as well. Senator John
McCain (R-Arizona) said, "President Bush needs to explain why
he chose to ignore the law that requires approval of a special court
for domestic wiretaps."
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has also called for an
investigation. He said, "The president can't pass the buck on this
one. He's commander in chief. But commander in chief does not
trump the Bill of Rights."
Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) was even more direct. He said,
"Where does he [President Bush] find in the Constitution the
authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens
without any court oversight?"
Feingold added, "He [Bush] is the president, not a king."
While it is true that many of the senators quoted in this column
have heretofore often been negligent in their adherence to the
Constitution (the McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill
being a prime example), in this case, they are right on target!
President Bush has no authority to order domestic spying without
court oversight. None.
It appears painfully true that, in the name of "fighting terrorism,"
the Bush administration is intent on dismantling America's Bill of
Rights. What is worse is there appears to be a sizeable segment of
our country that seems fine with it.
Several readers have recently written me saying (paraphrase), "I
would gladly surrender my constitutional liberties contained in the
Bill of Rights in order for my government to keep me safe." The
folly and naïveté of such thinking is staggering!
Virtually every dictator and despot of history assumed control over
their respective peoples by promising peace and security. No tyrant
tells his people, "I'm going to enslave you and subject you to acts
of terror." They all ascended to power with assurances of
prosperity and protection.
The American people, especially Christian conservatives, need to
face reality: it appears that the Bush administration has assumed
king-like powers, has trampled the Constitution and Bill of Rights,
and has broken the law! And unless the American people want to
trash the Constitution and turn our country over to some kind of
monarchal or oligarchic form of government, no leader, not even
the President of the United States is above the law!
Please remember that President Bush took an oath to support,
protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. The deliberate violation
of that oath, even if done with good intentions, must never be
tolerated by the American people.
Therefore, every American should insist that both the U.S. Senate
and House of Representatives conduct bipartisan investigations
into the conduct of President Bush. Only Congress has the
authority to hold the Executive Branch of government accountable
to the American people and to the Constitution. After all, without
the checks and balances of the Constitution, without allegiance to
the enumerated powers of the Constitution, without fidelity to the
Bill of Rights, America would become no better than the terrorist
nations our president says he is trying to protect us from!
© Chuck Baldwin
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