Bush’s war on American liberty and freedom

President George W. Bush lashed out at Democratic lawmakers Friday in a political tug-of-war over a wiretap program that pits US attempts to prevent terror attacks against its duty to protect civil liberties.

Bush accused Democrats in the House of Representatives of putting Americans at risk by blocking the Senate-passed legislation and allowing the post-September 11, 2001 measure to expire as they go on vacation.

“By blocking this piece of legislation our country is more in danger of an attack,” Bush said.

The program, set to end Saturday, authorizes intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance of US and foreign calls and electronic correspondence without first seeking a warrant and offers immunity to telecommunications companies that participate.

As part of the increasing brinkmanship between Bush’s Republicans and the Democratic-controlled Congress, the Senate passed a bill that makes the law permanent, but House Democrats refused to rubber-stamp the measure.

“The Senate passed a good bipartisan bill to make sure our intelligence community has the tools to protect us from this real threat,” Bush said after meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, intelligence officials and Republican lawmakers.

“There’s still an enemy which would like to do us harm,” he said. “We’ve got to give our professionals the tools they need to be able to figure out what the enemy is up to so that we can stop it.”

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, concerned about possible infringement of US privacy laws and the bill’s blanket immunity for companies that engage in the surveillance, accused Bush of fear-mongering and trying to bully lawmakers.

“The president knows full well that he has all the authority he needs to protect the American people,” Pelosi said Thursday before Congress went on recess due to Monday’s President’s Day holiday.

“President Bush tells the American people that he has nothing to offer but fear, and I’m afraid that his fear-mongering of this bill is not constructive.”

In a bid to raise the stakes, Bush threatened to postpone a trip to Africa in order to urge the passage of the legislation.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Bush “wouldn’t have said it if he wasn’t prepared to delay his trip” but that he went ahead with the travel plans anyway “because the House has made it clear that they don’t intend to act.”

Before leaving, Bush criticized House lawmakers for going on a 12-day vacation without passing the bill, and urged the House to “get a good bill to my desk, which is the Senate bill, as soon as possible.”

The two sides have clashed over the issue of immunity for telecom operators.

“Clearly the problem here is a majority of the Democrats in the House would rather see companies in court than they would terrorists in jail,” Republican Senator Mitch McConnell told reporters after speaking with Bush.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has argued that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which has been around for 30 years, needs modernization to keep up with advances in technology.

“For almost two years, we have worked with Congress to modernize FISA and ensure that the intelligence community can effectively collect the information needed to protect our country from attack — a goal that requires the willing cooperation of the private sector,” he wrote in The Washington Post.

“Without long-term legislation that includes liability protection, we will be delayed in gathering — or may simply miss — intelligence needed to protect the nation.”

But Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy dismissed the notion that businesses require immunity in order to cooperate.

“This is sheer nonsense. Under FISA, companies already have absolute immunity for any lawful cooperation. Future companies will be deterred only from cooperating with illegal surveillance requests, which is the whole point of the law.”

Stanzel told reporters that the lapse of the law did not mean that surveillance efforts would stop, only that attempts to start new efforts might become more lengthy and cumbersome.

“Some of the efforts that are currently underway have an opportunity to continue; new efforts would have to go through the old process,” Stanzel said.

19 Responses to "Bush’s war on American liberty and freedom"

  1. griff  February 17, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

    -James Madison-

    “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    -Benjamin Franklin-

    “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

    -James Madison-

    “If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

    -Thomas Jefferson-

  2. Rick Fuller  February 17, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    President George W. Bush is the most failed president in U.S. history. Under his regime, thousands of innocent people who have done nothing to him, have died – all for corporate profits.

    President Bush will also be the President remembered for allowing pension plans to go away in favor of corporate profits.

    Under president Bush, the real terrorists, corporations, have won.

  3. Helen Rainier  February 18, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Whatever the reasons might be for the US Congress giving Bush all of these passes on his clearly illegal and unconstitutional behavior and actions, what is the most disturbing to me is that IF this were the Clinton Administration doing these exact same things the Neopublicrats would be having hissy fits and we would have likely seen executions in the proverbial Town Square by now.

    I am by no means any great fan of the Clintons, however, when all is taken into perspective and when one “uses” the “Clinton Standard” to judge the Bush performance there are many more serious Constitutional issues that are raised.

    It also doesn’t matter one whit to me what the Bushies might have on any of these yellow-bellied cowards in Congress. They, just like I did upon my initial enlistment and several reenlistments, raised their right hands and swore to uphold and defend the US Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and they are NOT doing that. As far as I am concerned that is a tacit approval to the illegal behavior of the Bushies. Any one who can’t live up to their obligations should be shamed to the rafters for calling themselves servants of We, the People.

    They all make me weep for what was once a country that I believed was passably decent and honorable and it breaks my heart.

  4. bryan mcclellan  February 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Hello Helen,nicely worded.

  5. Helen Rainier  February 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Bryan,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I haven’t much time to get here for several months now. I am attending school full-time and idle time is now a luxury that is in short supply. We don’t have classes today because of President’s Day so wanted to stop by and check things out.

    Good to see the old familiar names not only on this story but others I have checked out!

  6. Paolo  February 16, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Frankly, I think the whole FISA law was bad; I hope they let it die. I don’t agree with the whole concept of “secret courts” that issue warrants for spying–such warrants to be overseen by no one, with the public never informed about who was spied on, and for what reason. That is an obvious recipe for abuse.

    The Bush Administration didn’t even follow the incredibly lax requirements of FISA, which allowed them to wiretap first, then get the secret FISA court to issue a warrant up to 3 days later.

    In a free society, the people have a right to privacy, but the government doesn’t.

    The telecoms, by the way, are perfect examples of “government/business partnership,” aka corporatism, mercantilism, or fascism. They understood they were breaking the law by cooperating with Bush, but they felt their big brother would always protect them. I hope they get huge fines and are forced out of business. It would set a good example.

    It’s about time the Democrats got some courage and took on the beast.

  7. Jim C  February 17, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    There’s a bit of confusion over what will expire . What is going to happen is that the new powers that bush was given will expire . Those are the ones he pushed through before the recess , the , gag , ” protect america act ” . What will end are those enhanced powers , the law will then revert back to the original FISA , which works just fine . All of this noise is much ado about nothing . I just wish the democrats would make that clear and stop letting chimpy fearmonger unopposed . I firmly believe that these new wire tapping powers were meant for political enemys , not islamo meanies . This program of illegal spying started soon after he slithered into office , well before the 911 attacks . I also believe thats why he’s so interested in immunity . Once it’s granted the investigatian is thworted . If not stopped , you can bet there will be a lot of things brought out in the court cases that the republicans want kept secret , like just who this wire tapping was aimed at for instance .

  8. keith  February 16, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Thankfully, Mr. Bush’s continued “sky is falling” rhetoric is, itself, falling on more and more deaf ears.

    The man is growing more out of touch with reality by the day. And on the 20th of January next year, he will be out of office.

  9. bryan mcclellan  February 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Somewhere in Texas a squirrel is missing one of his NUTS,and I don’t mean a testicle.

  10. keith  February 16, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Actually, Bryan, I heard a similar thought expressed as: “Somewhere in Texas a village is missing its idiot.”

  11. almandine  February 16, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve always thought – regarding the litany of new laws to “protect us” that Dubya has championed since 9/11 – that he has the police state mentality. But it dawned on me this week while reading another of his rants against the House of Reps that he may actually believe what he’s been saying. In other words, he’s scared shitless… ???

  12. bryan mcclellan  February 16, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    That one almost lends too much to the argument that he might have some semblance of a brain Keith.I cannot understand how the collective intelligence of our legislature fails repeatedly to outsmart this Loooooonatic.Every single member should be forced to walk the long rows of the fallen in Arlington Cemetery and get a grip on what it is this Nation of ours is about.That is,LAW,and the sacrifice it takes to uphold it.I heard a commentary yesterday( on NPR) about the legality of smirkies signing statements.The Constitution has no such provision anywhere in it.The speaker went on to say that the Judicial/Law scholars community has searched repeatedly into the tiniest crevasses to look for their justification and have come up empty every time.Clearly smirky has broken every tenet of his oath and these fools that allow this to reoccur(Congress)on a daily basis are culpable by association.Have they failed to pack their parachutes with logic and sense of duty,or failed to jump for reasons of stupidity? Are they in on the master plan with visions of their own little fiefdoms when they retire?Do they have a royalty complex where we are looked upon as serfs and indentured slaves,where title gives them license to steal from under our noses the very rights and dignity those who sacrificed provided?I felt and heard a wailing that assailed my soul whence last I walked the hallowed ground of Arlington,and it chills me to this day.How can there be so few in position of power that hear the anguished cries of our nation and so many that turn their backs to our predicament?We truly have become undone by an idiot/nut.PMFOT’s

  13. pollchecker  February 16, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    What I don’t understand why the GOP congressional leaders don’t step up and tell GW to shut the hell up. After all, he’s only hurting them not the Dems.

    For some reason they think they can win on GW’s failed policies. If McCain wants to stand a chance, now is his time to step up and bring congess together to do the right thing by our troops and the American voters and bring together a coalition in Congress that will just ignore GW and make him irrellevant for the rest of the year.

  14. SEAL  February 16, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I’m with you pollchecker. Only a few of the GOP congress critters come from states or districts where the KKK wears their uniforms to church. Obviously, some of them are committing political suicide. That means there is something we do not know. They have earned something really special by continuing to enable Bush to the bitter end. After several terms in the senate, why else would they blow their careers?

    I cannot believe that all of the Bush enablers do not understand that GWB suffers to a degree from the same syndrome that Hitler did toward the end of his power. He has promulgated his lies for so long he has come to believe them. And he believes his lies about terrorist fear to push his wiretapping law in spite of the fact that he has left our borders so wide open bin Ladin could drive a cadillac limo across at the head of a caravan of many of his family members.

    I do know that most of the democrats in congress are afraid of Bush, what he might do if he doesn’t get his way. But my attitude would be to deny him and then put a 24 hour watch on him of people authorized to snatch his little ass up and haul him off to a rubber room if he tries to do something crazy. I’m not ruled by fear.

    As written, the Constitution grants a great deal more power to congress than to the executive branch. The congress can stop the president from doing anything if they wanted to. Our current bunch should exercise that power.

  15. pollchecker  February 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “I do know that most of the democrats in congress are afraid of Bush, what he might do if he doesn’t get his way ”

    I think it is more they remembered what happened in 2002 to those that stood up for their principles. They got labeled unpatriotic and in support of terrorism and voted out of office.

    But it is 2008 and LITERALLY EVERYTHING that GW has said has been proven to be false. So it doesn’t make sense to continue to support something that has proven to be false except stubborn and blind loyalty. I don’t think that will sell, let alone win, in 2008.

    I think the people are looking for someone who listens and isn’t a stubborn, know it all big brother type…literally.

  16. LurkingFromTheLeft  February 16, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Oh Bryan’s version

    …is much funnier!

    …sorry!

    LFTL

  17. WWWexler  February 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    In order for this to work for Dubya, people will have to be utterly ignorant of the facts in the matter. If you know even one of the facts, you will know that everything Bush and his toadies are quacking is an outright lie. On the other hand, Bush can’t come up with a single fact that even approaches the truth in supporting his assertions.

    So, the question is, what does the media do with this? Do they expose Bush and Blunt as the lying sacks of dung they are, or do they report what Bush says as some kind of set of “facts” and let you sort it out?

    Any journalist worth a crap will call this what it is… probably with a bit more restraint than I would use, but nonetheless Bush and Blunt are fukkin’ liars and and lying to subvert the Constitutional protections afforded by the 4th Amendment ought to be enough to impeach their asses out of Washington.

    -Wexler

  18. almandine  February 16, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Cheers for your argument, but if you think Rupert Murdoch and his ilk will take on Dubya and Co., I think you’re sadly mistaken. Truth is…

  19. Jim C  February 17, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I have to wonder if all of this wire tapping might have something to do with it . Remember , this bunch has been doing it almost from day one . That could explain a lot of the very strange behavior exibited by many democrats , Reid has been working hard trying to get this immunity through while making statements that he is fighting it . Just look at how he has handled the rules of procedure . He has been doing just the opposite of what he has been saying he is trying to do , very strange indeed . The republicans didn’t expect to lose both houses allowing investigations . Its quite apparent they’re scrambling for cover, they did not expect to be in this position .

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