Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Pushback Continues

I've been listening to Rush Limbaugh on the way to work all this week because I can count on him to present the Bush administration pushback on the spying scandal without delaying it or hedging it.

Today, the line appears to be a fetid load of rancid fertilizer stemming from a column by John Schmidt in today's Chicago Tribune (boo, hiss— do we need to remind you of the editorial bias at the trib?) that falsely argues the President had legal authority to order the wiretaps we've been talking about all week. I heard Limbaugh rant for a good twenty minutes on this subject. (And may I just say— dude needs to go back on the little blue ones. He's starting to go all Michael Savage on us, and that is not pretty.)

This latest argument is all of the same piece as the other attempts to muddle the debate we brought to your attention earlier this week. The fine folks at ThinkProgress.Com are all over this one. They are quite handily deconstructing this bullshit-on-demand.
[...] It features this selectively edited excerpt from a 2002 decision by the FISA appeals court:
“All the … courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence…We take for granted that the president does have that authority.” [...]

Actually, the quote doesn’t begin with the word “all”; it begins “The Truong court, as did all the other courts…” The Truong case was decided in 1978 — the same year FISA was passed — and did not deal with the FISA law.

If you read the whole thing, and compare notes with our previously linked comments, it will be plainly apparent that this pushback is all stemming from the same source. Somebody, probably somewhere inside the Justice Department or the White House, is purposely misquoting FISA and pretending it doesn't say what it does. Specifically, they want you to believe that 50 USC 1802 doesn't limit the definition of a "foreign power" to which it applies to a subset of the categories defined in 50 USC 1801 that specifically excludes international terrorists. The Congress explicitly and deliberately wrote the law this way.

Once again, apologists for the President are deliberately lying about the text of the law and the judicial record. The President has authority to order electronic surveillance without a court order on foreign agents narrowly defined to exclude international terrorists. These people are trying to pretend that the Congress did not explicitly limit the President's authority to prevent his office from ordering what George W. Bush admitted in front of God and C-SPAN he did.

p.s. "Deliberately" is a really fun word in this context— you should look it up, RedState!

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