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November 18, 2006

Gonzales: Spying Foes A Grave Threat To Liberty And Security 9/11, "War On Terror"  Politics  Rights, Law

Alberto Gonzales says foes of the administration's warrantless electronic surveillance are a "grave threat" to the "liberty and security of the American people." 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 presents 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 decision "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching."

Gonzales, in remarks prepared for delivery at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said 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."

Gonzales and Cheney's attacks on the court order came as the administration was urging the lame-duck Congress to approve legislation authorizing the warrantless surveillance. The bill's chances are in doubt, however, because of Democratic opposition in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to end debate and vote. [...]

In August, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit struck down the warrantless surveillance program, saying it violated the rights to free speech and privacy and the constitutional separation of powers. She was the first judge to rule on the legality of the program, which is operated by the National Security Agency.

Bush and other administration officials sharply criticized the ruling, which the government appealed. They argued that the program is legal under the president's constitutional powers and saved lives by helping to disrupt terrorist plots.

Cheney, in an address Friday to the Federalist Society, said Taylor's order was troubling because it was "tying the hands of the president of the United States in the conduct of a war." He added: "And this is a matter entirely outside the competence of the judiciary."

In his prepared remarks, Gonzales dismissed as "myth" the charge that civil liberties were being sacrificed in the fight against terrorism. He defended the USA Patriot Act and the handling of detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. [Emphasis added]

Criticism of warrantless wiretapping a grave threat to liberty. Orwell lives.

Posted by Jonathan at November 18, 2006 06:08 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


Ahhh, our administration “Staying the Course”, or should that be “Staying the Coarse”.

Someone needs to explain to Cheney that "tying the hands of the president of the United States in the conduct of a war" is what's known as balance. Or maybe Cheney could just reread the Federalist Societies founding principles, one of which states “the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution”. This hand-tying should have come from Congress, but I'll gladly accept it from a judge. Our democracy is still one where Congress and the administration do not control the courts, but you have to wonder just how many judges belong to the Federalist Society. I’m guessing the Honorable Anna Diggs Taylor is not a member, with emphasis on honorable.


Posted by: Jeff at November 18, 2006 07:10 PM

"should that be Staying the Coarse"

Or maybe Staying the Curse.

And now we have this, from an article by Seymour Hersh in the November 27th issue of "The New Yorker" (the URL is http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/061127fa_fact):

"A month before the November elections, Vice-President Dick Cheney was sitting in on a national-security discussion at the Executive Office Building. ... Cheney began reminiscing about his job as a lineman, in the early nineteen-sixties, for a power company in Wyoming. Copper wire was expensive, and the linemen were instructed to return all unused pieces three feet or longer. No one wanted to deal with the paperwork that resulted, Cheney said, so he and his colleagues found a solution: putting 'shorteners' on the wire — that is, cutting it into short pieces and tossing the leftovers at the end of the workday. If the Democrats won on November 7th, the Vice-President said, that victory would not stop the Administration from pursuing a military option with Iran. The White House would put 'shorteners' on any legislative restrictions, Cheney said, and thus stop Congress from getting in its way."

So in addition to calling defense of freedom a "threat to liberty" (Orwell would be *so* proud), the White House has declared that it will actively subvert any Congressional limits to its blood-thirstiness.

I feel so much safer.

Posted by: LarryE at November 19, 2006 06:59 PM