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I deeply dislike all Chicken Little comments, and I am impatient with the inexactitude of "fascist" and "Nazi" used as general expressions of opprobrium. And that is why I wish this week I did not keep thinking of Hitler's use of Article 48, the so-called emergency clause to safeguard to public safety, to abrogate what was left of the Weimar Republic (and history has been happy to blame the Weimar Republic for its demise).



Well, is there any evidence that this is Alito's personal view? During the Jones litigation, Clinton's team (and not just his 'private' lawyers IIRC) argued that POTUS was not subject to litigation while in office for actions taken prior to assuming office. Would those officials be expected to defend that argument as their own opinion?


Yes. If one of "those officials" was later nominated for the SC, it would be entirely appropriate to establish for the public record whether the position in the brief represents their own professional opinion about the scope of executive power. As Mark says, these are fundamental matters that impact the health of the republic. We have a right to know.

Peter Levine


You're right that this is a big deal--to me, it's more significant than any other accusation against the Bush administration.

I agree that FISA implements a constitutional principle. Other aspects of the Constitution have been violated by this administration and by many of its predecessors. However, violating a criminal statute is different from acting against the Constitution; it requires a different response.

If a president violates the Constitution, a court should strike down his policy and order a remedy. If he lies, the people should weigh his mendacity at the next election. If he violates international law, the US should be held accountable, and we Americans should strongly express our displeasure. In other words, all of these presidential misbehaviors are serious, but they can be addressed through the normal mechanisms of constitutional democracy and diplomacy (debates, votes, lawsuits, UN resolutions). In each case, it is ultimately citizens who must respond. One of the reasons that I haven't welcomed criminal investigations of the Bush administration is that they substitute for citizen action.

However, to violate a US statute is different. Statutes are not vague, like constitutional principles. They do not apply to nations or governments. They clearly assign responsibility to individuals. You either violate a statute or you don't. If you happen to be the president when you break a law, then you must be impeached before you can be indicted. That is why the impeachment clause talks of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

I don't think it's possible to tell without a full investigation whether the domestic wiretaps violated FISA. There is also some debate about whether FISA was constitutional in its limitation on the president's powers. If the wiretaps did violate FISA, and if FISA is constitutional, then the wiretaps were criminal. That is different from simply violating the Fourth Amendment.

Powerful people should be afraid to do things that are defined as felonies, even when they act in secret. If they break clear laws with impunity, then we have no hope of controlling them.

Judy Stevens

We found this President lied to us about war and WMD. He prevents proper investigations and interfers with it.

Why would we trust him to spy for us to keep us safe from anything. We have never been safe or free in his world of terror, fear, and lies.

This President wants absolute power to do as he pleases with every freedom and law we have to this date...using "terrorism" as his mantle.

He is a traitor who thinks the Constitution is just a piece of paper. Any President would be impeached for such a comment. He is lawless as to his duty as President taking powers not his.

This President doesn't repect our law or our Constitution as he swore under oath. He committed perjury many times. He should removed and tried for his many criminal acts against our country and its citizens (911, Katrina, debt, etc.).


Over at my tiny corner of blogtopia (hail skippy) I never miss the chance to describe the domestic spying (never "eavesdropping") as unconstitutional.

Alito’s views of executive power should be a major, major topic at the hearings.

And this is where Specter can redeem himself a little bit. If he doesn't try to squelch that line of questioning by saying that he's talked privately with Alito and found him to be a man of blah blah blah ... then he'll be showing us at least a little something. I expect the reverse to happen.

Narnia Nerd

I guess I'm in that very small boat of people who still chooses to believe that Bush is trying to act with the best for our country in his mind. It seems that people forget that he is a human being just like us all. He has weaknesses, and struggles to know what to do in some difficult situations. It is easy to trash him when we have 20/20 vision after the situations have passed. I personally think his job would be more stress than I would ever want, and will continue to give him my respect as long as I can.

Nick Wilder

Honestly, are you stupid, ignorant or dishonest? You cite bring up the 4th Amendment as being a separate and more important law, supposedly violated. THen you discuss the Keith case, in which the court did find the unwarratned wiretapping illegal, but very specifically said that this is not being applied to foreign intelligence gathering. You did note that. But then say that that is why FISA was enacted. YOU SHIFTED THE ENTIRE ARGUEMNT THERE. FIsa is NOT the fourth amendment. Nor can congress alter the fourth amendment, or the executive power for that matter. The fourth amendment is not violated.


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shoe stretchers

If you were going to buy a golf club, you wouldn't walk into a store and buy the first one you see, would you? Of course

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balls if the store has a practice spot, and look at the price, of course. If you are considering buying running shoes,

you need to go through a similar process and take the time to find the perfect shoe.

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