Perhaps FISA is unduly restrictive. If so, let’s pass a better law. If, instead, we just let the President break the law anytime he decides to do so, we should not be surprised when some President decides to use that power in ways we find abhorrent. At that point, it will be nearly impossible to fix. No statute will be able to bind the President and both impeachment and constitutional amendment are very blunt instruments with long time lags. It is far better to decide what checks are needed before the fact.
Boy howdy. Other folks have used up most of the good points on the warantless wiretaps, but this point is absolutely vital. The White House has aggressively promoted the theory that the President can ignore the letter of the law if, in his judgement, national security would be better served by a different law permitting warrantless wiretaps, torture, etc. If the other branches of government give up the ability to constrain the President, they will likely never get it back again. Presidential campaigns don’t produce very many Cincinnatuses.
I’ve been a little surprised at the number of self-proclaimed small-government conservatives and libertarians who have stepped up to bat for Bush on this. The chasm between “Republicans” and “conservatives” continues to widen. I don’t see any way to reconcile the two. This country has had a pretty good run without subscribing to the theory of Presidential untouchability. The division of powers and rule of law seem to have paid some significant dividends. Letting them slip, even with the best of intentions, seems deeply, tragically unconservative. And yet the Pajamasphere seems intent on sneering at the press and cheerleading as the President jumps the rails.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve $3.5 million in venture capital“, apparently.