Monday, December 19, 2005

Althouse on FISA and Wiretaps

Ann Althouse has a discussion of the wiretap story, with a strong comment thread going. One money graf from Ann:
Several people here are forgetting about the President's powers as Commander in Chief. The idea that Congress wins in a standoff is NOT at all clear. And the question whether we've got a standoff is also NOT clear. Those who are saying what Bush did is "blatantly" unconstitutional are either just repeating what they've heard, not up on constitutional law, or big partisans spreading propanganda, or something else that I'm failing to think of. But they are NOT telling it straight. And it's only because of a reprehensible leak that the President is now in the position of having to counter all these free-swinging arguments that people have unwittingly bought way too early.
I hadn't even thought about the war powers aspect of this. (I am not a lawyer...thank you, God.)


mythago said...

The idea that Commander in Chief pwnz0rs Congress WTFINTEHFACE! is also BS.

The fact that the anti-Fourth Amendment side is screeching so much about TERRORISM! and BUT HE'S THE PRESIDENT! is a pretty clear indicator of the soundness of the argument.

McDuff said...

Look at it this way, Robert.

Democracy involves swings and roundabouts. At some point in the next decade, there will be a President that offends you as much as Bush offends me. Maybe it will be Hillary Clinton (although I hope not), maybe it will be Bill Richardson (Richardon/Warner '08!), maybe it will be Jon Stewart, with Michael Moore as the VP.

The Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism will, in all likelyhood, not be over by then. Do you really want precendent established that says the President has authority to override Congress, in that case?

The idea that one member or branch of government can be given virtually unlimited powers in wartime (and Bush's excuses for why the powers he's asking for are not unlimited are, um, limited) is, it seems to me, the precise reason that you overthrew the British and established a system of government with checks and balances on the powers wielded by individual branches. It's worrying that you'd be willing to throw that out.

As with the torture argument, this is one of those issues where someone asking for the authority to do something is evidence enough that they should under no circumstances be allowed to have that authority.