Thursday, April 6, 2006

Attorney General: We Can Wiretap Purely Domestic Calls Without Oversight, Too

Here's hubris: Attorney General Gonzalez testifying that the President's powers include the right to wiretap calls between Americans, entirely within our borders, if he thinks the calls are related to an investigation of al Quaeda:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales suggested that the administration could decide it was legal to listen in on a domestic call without supervision if it were related to al-Qaeda.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said.

Shorter Alberto: the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply when the U.S. has enemies. (I was going to write "when the U.S. is at war", but we haven't declared, and can't declare, war on al Quaeda, because it's not a sovereign state.) If we have enemies, the government can search whatever it wants. Which means: always.

Gonzalez also dangled another tantalizing hint that the NSA surveillance program we know about may be only the tip of the iceberg: what programs DON'T we know about?

In yesterday's testimony, Gonzales reiterated earlier hints that there may be another facet to the NSA program that has not been revealed publicly, or even another program that has prompted dissension within the government. While acknowledging disagreements among officials over the monitoring efforts, Gonzales disputed published reports that have detailed the arguments.

"They did not relate to the program the president disclosed," Gonzales testified. "They related to something else, and I can't get into that."

This is how fascism starts, folks. It's not overreacting to observe that when the top law enforcement official in the country asserts the right to wiretap Americans' domestic calls without search warrants or Congressional oversight, forever, whenever the President thinks it's important, then we are looking at the beginnings of a totalitarian state.

Will the Senate Dems consider censuring the President NOW, or are they waiting to see how well the annexation of Austria Iraq turns out?

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