The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case for The Censure of the President

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While in the aftermath of Presidential deceptions concerning the Iraq Invasion, it has become all too common in left-wing circles to call for the President’s impeachment, the unfolding NSA spy scandal is one of the most egregious breaches of both the constitution and public trust in recent history and must be recognized and prosecuted as such. First reported by the New York Times on December 16th, 2005, the scandal, which was initially defended by the Bush administration as a limited program, has now been exposed as a massive data mining operation conducted by the secretive National Security Agency, the largest and least visible of America’s intelligence services.

The United States is not a parliamentary democracy. Our Founding Fathers, for better or for worst, designed a presidential system of checks and balances, and of separation of powers. In recent memory, the dramatic tendency of Presidential systems to descend into authoritarianism has been clearly demonstrated in Ecuador, Columbia and Brazil, among others. The very reason the United States has endured as the longest, and arguably the only presidential democracy not to break down into autocracy is because of the profound respect for the process and the rule of law held by this nation’s leaders.

The Bush administrations admitted to contemptuously and recklessly flaunting the due process of law in this country, and this is a decision that they must be held accountable for. The Bush administration has decided to operate behind the veil of the threat of terrorism, instead of within the bounds and spirit of the law, and has dramatically and unacceptably expanded the scope of the federal government’s power over the civil liberties of her citizens. Their defense of these expanded powers comes from a superficial and selective reading of the US Constitution, the canon of constitutional law and from Hamilton’s federalist papers, and it ultimately rests on shaky legal, philosophical and academic grounds. In the days after September 11th, John Yoo’s memorandum made the case that the executive branch possess “plenary” authority over the military, an authority that Yoo argues is “unrewievable.”

Congress, the Courts and the American people cannot and must not allow American civil liberties to be traded away piecemeal, under the guise of safety and security. The war on terror is not a war that will have a clear moment of victory and the President has said as much himself (albeit to retract his statements upon attack from Senator Kerry), and America cannot treat it as such. Certainly, the threat of terrorism is real, and the dangers we face as a nation are not exaggerated, however the issue at stake here is the scope of federal powers and the future of American civil liberties. The Bush Administration’s executive order was both unnecessary given the current legal situation, and illegal. Congress must act now. At the very least, the Bush Administration has stretched the law to the point where it deserves censure, and investigation by a special prosecutor. Any less would make a mockery of our constitution, our laws and our values.

-E. Desiderius

Note: This article makes no mention of the Feingold censure motion because it was written in December, published on a now defunct blog in February and is being reposted here

Relevant Links:
Newsweek/MSNBC: Democrats' Dilemma

Posted by George Gordon | Saturday, March 18, 2006 | E-mail this post

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