Expecting the executive branch to obey the law and respect civil rights is "shortsighted,"
Those Who Want to Uphold the Constitution present a "grave threat" to U.S. security.
Gonzales Blasts Surveillance Critics
Nov 18, 3:47 PM (ET)
By CHASE SQUIRES
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales contended Saturday that some critics of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program were defining freedom in a way that poses a "grave threat" to U.S. security.
Gonzales was the second administration official in two days to attack a federal judge's ruling last August that the program was unconstitutional. Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday called the ruling "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."
Gonzales told about 400 cadets from the Air Force Academy's political science and law classes that some see the program as on the verge of stifling freedom rather that protecting the country.
"But this view is shortsighted," he said. "Its definition of freedom - one utterly divorced from civic responsibility - is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people."
On August 17 a Federal Court judge in Detroit ruled that the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" which had been revealed by the New York Times in December was Unconstitution a ruled that it should be immediately terminated.
The ACLU who had filed the original suit had this statement:
Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor agreed with the ACLU that the NSA program violates Americans’ rights to free speech and privacy under the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, and runs counter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) passed by Congress. Judge Taylor also rejected the government’s argument that the case could not proceed because of state secrets, saying that facts about NSA wiretapping have already been conceded by the government.Obviously Gonzales wasn't paying attention based on his statement today.
"By holding that even the president is not above the law, the court has done its duty under our Constitution to serve as a check on executive power," said ACLU Associate Legal Director Ann Beeson, who argued the case before Judge Taylor. "Throwing out the Constitution will not make Americans any safer."
In her ruling, Judge Taylor dismisses the government’s argument that the president "has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself."
At a news conference, Gonzales would not speculate how the administration would react if Congress did not authorize warrantless surveillance.
"We're optimistic because of the importance of this program, the success of the program, the stated commitment of the Democratic leadership to work with us in protection of America, and that we're going to have a good discussion and dialogue about the program," he said.
"We believe the president has the authority under the authorization of military force and inherent authority of the constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority," he said.
Part of what Gonzales is claiming here involving "inherent powers" is based on an argument that failed in the Hamdi case. In that situation the DOJ argue that Hamdi, who is a U.S. Citizen could be held and detained as an "Enemy Combatant" without judicial review under the Authorization to use Military Force in Afghanistan. The Supreme's found otherwise.
JUSTICE O ’CONNOR,joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE,JUSTICE KENNEDY,and JUSTICE BREYER,concluded that although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged in this case, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker.Pp.14 –15.
JUSTICE SOUTER,joined by JUSTICE GINSBURG,concluded that Hamdi ’ s detention is unauthorized,but joined with the plurality to conclude that on remand Hamdi should have a meaningful opportunity to offer evidence that he is not an enemy combatant.
In short, Hamdi should have the right to a judicial hearing - a process which is quite similar to that required by FISA - a warrant. How exactly Alberto ("Tortue Memos") Gonzales - the so-called Top Law Enforcement Official in the Country - and Vice President Dick ("Shooter") Cheney get from losing the Hamdi case to claiming that their Warrantless eavesdropping on tens of millions of phone calls and email information is somehow "Constitution" is a shocking and frankly sickening situation.Both of these men took an solemn oath to "Uphold the Constitution", yet both seem hell-bent on violating it's very tenets.
Abu presents a false hobsons choice between the possible loss of "liberty" due to a devestating terrorist attack - which even in the worst case scenario is less likely to be as deadly and damaging as Hurricane Katrina - against the very real fact of lost liberty happening right now as a result of the Bush administrations Imperialist actions.
They claim this type of surveillance has been "highly succesful", yet the FBI considers the thousands of false leads and dead-ends they've generated so far to be "a waste" of time and resources. Resources which could and should be better spent on credible leads gained through legal means.There is also the problem that evidence gathered against real terrorists who are actually captured using extra-legal means - is inadmissable under the fruits of the poison tree doctrine. (Of course this may be exactly why Bush has pushed so hard for the use of Military Commisions, which may use coerced and classifed evidence -"to protect sources and methods" - while simultaneously abandoning Habeas Corpus)
Newly empowered Congressional Democrats have already found that the Bush Administration has been regularly violating at least 26 Federal Laws - including FISA.
But it has to be said that this type of nonsensical counter-factual politicing by appointed Civil Servants is dangerous to the foundations of our Democracy itself. It is a far greater danger in the estimatation of many legal and constitutional scholars - than anything Al Qaeda has done, or will ever do.
The deepest cuts to liberty are those which are often self-inflicted.