That is a fact. No other way to state it. It may also be a crime and that is what Congress will have to discuss when they get back in session.
As it's been reported by the New York Times, the story goes like this. Bush decides that he needs to listen in on conversations in "war zones" -- the conversations could really be anywhere in the world since the "war on terror" is officially not declared (only Congress can do that) and is completely undefined Internationally (the famous "We have to get them there..." where "there" can be anywhere), but they have admitted to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. The conversations are admittedly at times between someone there and someone here (yes, American citizens included).
The conversations are of "National importance", "Immediate security threats", "Imminent danger", etc... and cannot wait to get a warrant from even the highly secret FISA court (on duty as needed). Bush decides to listen in on the calls immediately. So far, this IS legal...
Here's where it all goes to the potential criminal side: The FISA Act allows the above scenario to occur with one caveot, the President is REQUIRED to go to the FISA court within 72 hours of making an Executive Order to spy on American citizens and request the warrant. That warrant has never been denied to anyone's knowledge, i.e. it's a formality that keeps the entire process legal.
Bush out of contempt for the system, pure laziness, or potential criminal intent as yet unknown (can't think of any other legitimate reasons), HAS NEVER GONE BACK FOR THE WARRANT! This is in direct violation of not only the FISA act, but also the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Bush deny's none of the facts. He is actually admitting to and defending his actions.
So here's the question: Does Bush know that he's publically and brazenly admitted to a potentially impeachable offense under the "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" section of the Impeachment Article or is he just a complete loon?
Our Congressmen and Senators MUST take this seriously. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Sensenbrenner should be incensed (see his quote below). Feingold is going to be too busy fixing the PATRIOT Act when he returns, so now it's time for Senator Kohl to step up to the bat and take a swing. We need his leadership now to hold this man accountable for his clear disregard for the rule of law (or even the meaning of the word).
Two well-repeated responses from the Conservative pundits (Fox News) on this:
1. All Presidents have secretly wire-tapped under the FISA Act since it was passed.
This is a partial truth that is misleading. The whole truth is that while all Presidents have used this act at one time or another, the only one to NOT go back as required by law and get the warrant from the FISA court is Bush.
2. The New York Times has "committed treason" by releasing this information (yes that's what they actually said on Fox News last night) after the President asked them not to for National Security reasons.
Actually, according to some reports, Bush's rationale to NYT publishers and others (he invited them to the White House to tell them this) for not wanting the story published was that it would be "embarrasing". This is a clear case of "bait and switch". Bush has most likely committed treason and so in usual style the conservative pundits are accusing the people who told the story of treason. This is their modus operandi and it's getting old.Sensenbrenner's answer to why the PATRIOT Act doesn't need to be changed is always something like: No court has found that the Constitution has been violated under it, so it must be okay.... (even though people who are having their rights violated aren't even told it's happening, and even if they do find out are often under a gag order) Others are insinuating: Trust us, we would never violate your rights unless you were a bad guy, just give us the power to anyway...
I don't know about you, but my level of "trust" has dropped below zero with these guys.
Since I wrote this article earlier today, I found this news report buried on UPI (it came out on Monday, the day the news stations were replaying the disasters of the year instead of the news of the day conveniently).
The headline is: Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them
It makes a couple of my comments above a little inaccurate. Apparently, Bush was going to the FISA court, but for the first time in the history of the court, a President was overreaching and the court was denying his requests. Rather than modifying the requests, following the law or continuing to work within the system, it now looks like he made a conscious decision to break the law...
Think about the implications of that...even typing it makes me nauseous...
Keeping up with this stuff is a chore in itself! No wonder the FISA court judge resigned in disgust last week! Who would blame him?