Jack Ingram

Sadly, I must admit that when the New York Times announced last month that President Bush ordered the National Security Agency (NSA), which focuses on international and foreign surveillance, to spy instead on American citizens, I hardly flinched. I suppose that for a man who usurped the electoral process in 2000, who mongers an unjustified war in Iraq and who continues to widen the partisan schism in Washington, that the proverbial wiping-of-the-ass with the Constitution was the next logical step, and quite frankly, I’m not the least bit surprised.

Since 9-11 President Bush has repeatedly ordered the NSA to wiretap international telephone calls and e-mails of American citizens (a.k.a. spying); something the Constitution expressly forbids.

After the Watergate scandal with Nixon, who also ordered illegal wiretaps, Congress intervened in 1978 and established the boundaries for which such spying by a president may be legally permitted, only with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Bush ignored this law, which requires him to obtain a search warrant from a special FISA court before spying on U.S. citizens.

One need only watch half an episode of “Law & Order” to understand that in America, authorities need a court-ordered search warrant before they can initiate any kind of search of a citizen.

Apparently, Bush perceives the best way to protect constitutional rights and American principles from being violated by terrorists is to abandon such rights and principles. It’s reminiscent of the Cold War mentality that in order to save the world, it would be necessary to blow it up. Oddly, that idea wasn’t too popular on either side of the Iron Curtain. Similarly, I doubt Bush’s justification for violating the Constitution and his oath of office will be well received once Congress initiates a full investigation.

Yet, how does Bush defend his unwarranted violation of the Constitution? By pointing to the Constitution of course; citing that it is within the scope of his constitutional war powers as president to conduct war at his own discretion. Bush also claims that after 9-11, Congress authorized him to take all action necessary to prevent further terrorist attacks, despite Congress’s bipartisan 9-11 Commission’s report. The report stated the 9-11 attacks were not prevented due to a lack of intelligence information about the attackers, but was in fact due to the failure of the executive and its agencies (i.e. the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.) to properly utilize the intelligence they already possessed. In essence, what we needed to prevent 9-11 wasn’t more spying, but more effective action and communication within the executive branch.

Let’s get to the real issue here. Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat or anything in between, ask yourself: are you comfortable with your president spying on you and your fellow citizens? Do you really believe that in a time of war a president can conduct that war however he sees fit, regardless of the Constitution – regardless of your rights? Ask yourself, has the president violated your rights, freedoms or liberties by his unwarranted spying on Americans? And if so, what should be done?

Will our Republican Congress impeach a Democratic president for lying about a little harmless fellatio – something that violated no constitutional rights – and yet allow this Republican president to reign unchecked and unbalanced, although he violates a sacred constitutional right of all American citizens – the right to privacy?

I certainly hope not.

Thoughts? Comments? Perhaps you’ve just got something to say. Get on the Soapbox and e-mail me at Jingramster@gmail.com or send in a letter to the editor.

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