Impeach President Bush: Liberty or Safety?

Greg Grillot argues the case for Impeaching President George W. Bush.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“There is undeniably an important and legitimate privacy interest at stake with respect to the activities described by the president. That must be balanced, however, against the government’s compelling interest in the security of the nation.” ~ Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella

MERRY CHRISTMAS. Your editor praises and thanks Jesus. Alas, I am not so forgiving as He…so today I will forget all Holiday Cheer and make the case for impeaching the President.

To put it simply, the President broke the law by authorizing domestic spying without a warrant. He also tramples on the Bill of Rights and Article II of the Constitution. His actions are illegal and unconstitutional. Christmas notwithstanding – it’s time to impeach.

First, let us see why authorizing warrantless surveillance is illegal.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was created in 1978 after extensive public outcry on domestic surveillance on civil-rights activists and war protestors. The act states that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must grant a warrant before the federal government conducts any domestic surveillance. Further, to allow agile intelligence gathering, the act permits the government to conduct surveillance without a warrant, provided that the government requests one from the court within 72 hours.

So, by authorizing warrantless surveillance, the President broke the FISA law.

Impeach President Bush: Unconstitutional

Then, how are those actions unconstitutional? Here’s a snippet from that grand document:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” ~ Amendment 4

I don’t even have to interpret that. The words ring clear.

Here’s another tasty snippet from that superb Constitution:

“Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:-“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Constitution, Article 2, referring to the President

It does not seem to me that the President protects or defends the Constitution. In fact, he has spat upon it and tossed it in the mud.

And one more piece:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Constitution, Article 2

Now, I’ll leave it to you (and the courts) to decide whether or not the President has committed a high Crime. But I feel that he has, and that the impeachment process should roll. The last time around, the President was impeached for lying about adultery. I ask you, how does that compare with breaking the Congress-passed FISA law and assaulting the Bill of Rights?

Impeach President Bush: Why Skirt around the Courts?

Why is warrantless domestic surveillance even necessary, considering the generous 72 hour time period? Why would the President willingly break the law when the NSA can conduct intelligence and request warrants 3 days after the fact? Maybe because the people that the NSA watches aren’t terror threats. Maybe the NSA snoops on journalists and war protestors. Why else would the administration knowingly circumvent the courts..?

Whoever it is that the NSA secretly monitors, you can safely assume that the FISA court would refuse to issue a warrant in those cases. Otherwise, there would be no need to circumvent the courts! And it may be that your editor will attract their attention upon the publication of this missive.

But that’s OK. If the NSA deigns to secretly monitor your editor, they’ll learn a few things. Namely: I’m a brawling, drunken lout with poor hygiene and a penchant for profanity. Not exactly of national security interest.

Adding to the morbidity, here’s a piece from the NSA website:

“Americans expect NSA to conduct its missions within the law. But given the inherently secret nature of those missions, how can Americans be sure that the Agency does not invade their privacy?

The 4th Amendment of the Constitution demands it… oversight committees within all three branches of the U.S. government ensure it… and NSA employees, as U.S. citizens, have a vested interest in upholding it. Respecting the law is only a part of gaining Americans’ trust.” ~ NSA website

Now, before you write in and excoriate me for hindering the war on terror, I ask you if it’s worth it to sacrifice your liberty and rights to feel safe.

Or, to put it in a brash way, I’d rather fight Bin Laden himself, mano a mano, than willingly suffer under a draconian government. Yes, America seems more and more imperial every day, but that’s the topic of another essay. Until then, I sign off and repeat Benjamin Franklin’s sage words:

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Please shoot me an e-mail with your opinions here:

Greg Grillot
December 25, 2005

Weekend Whiskey mailbag: Here’s a front-line response to Mish’s recent housing piece entitled “Housing Peaks in Fresno”

“Greg-Who Cares?

“I care. Not in the sense that average consumers are about to take a beating on their recently bought housing (i.e. credit cards for retarded over-consumption), but in the revelation of the trend.

“Fresno, Bakersfield, and the string of small, carbon copy, San Joaquin Valley towns in the surrounding area, were considered by many to be the last bastion of affordable real estate in California. When the surge of high priced housing in more desirable areas of the state caused residents to flee, many settled right here in the San Joaquin Valley. In turn the housing here experienced a dramatic increase in pricing on a percentage basis (notice I did not say value). There are several articles floating around stating that central California is on the map of the most overpriced housing nationally. Here is an anecdote for proof.

“Upon moving back to Porterville in 2001, all ready to become a real estate mogul, I purchased a small SFR in the old part of town. A real text book kind of investment; cosmetic repairs, price was right, and would rent for a profit. Total investment was $65,000 with repairs and acquisition expenses.

“By the summer of 2005 I figured the boom had played out. We hit the
market at $185,000 expecting to have buyers by the short and curlies. We anticipated that we would not budge on price, inspections…etc. Too late; the market had already begun to turn.

“Hello reality. Several months of marketing brought one offer: $160,000 with seller paying for all, I repeat, all of buyer’s expenses including closing cost for their loan. We got the price up a little higher but all other concessions were met. I am in escrow as of this writing with fingers crossed.

“Worst part (for the buyer): The damn thing isn’t worth a penny over $75,000 if you look at the value from an intrinsic/historical standpoint. Well I guess he is only overpaying by 113%.

“We were the last ones (in the state) to see the appreciation, and it seems we will be the first ones to see the decline in prices. Its not different this time; markets that boom eventually bust.

“Thank you so much for you efforts on W&G. I love every minute of it.

Real Estate Appraiser
Porterville, Ca”

Thanks for the informed comment, JLG – and for the undue praise!

Quote of the week: “One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a “Vegan Community Project.” Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group’s “semi-communistic ideology.” A third indicates the bureau’s interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” ~ NY Times

Headline(s) of the week: “Take it from Japan: Bubbles Hurt” ~ NY Times

“IRS Argues That the Bush Tax Cuts Reduced Tax Revenues” ~ Angry Bear