Days before the NY Times published its devastating story on how Bush authorized the NSA to spy on American citizens without bothering to attain the necessary warrants, the Codpiecein Chief summoned NYT Editor in Chief Bill Keller to his office and begged him not to run with the piece (which, mysteriously, the Times suppressed for a full year). It’s pretty clear now why Bush was so terrified of the story getting out: he can be impeached for it.

In an unusually biting opinion piece, Jonathan Alter says it’s a matter of fact that Bush broke the law and displayed total disdain for the Constitution.

President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act….

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism….

911 is looking more and more like the Reichstag Fire, with which the Nazis justified doing “whatever it takes” to destroy Communism. (No, 911 wasn’t faked like the fire was, but it’s exploitation as an excuse for virtually anything is strikingly similar.) It’s implications are enormous. Bush always says we can’t trust the government to decide how to spend our tax dollars, so taxes should be cut. Government is, he always implied, prone to bad judgement and blunders. And yet, it’s the same government that he wants to endow with the power to spy on whomever it chooses, the laws of the land be damned. All under the mantra of 911 and the fight against terrorism, absoutely anything goes if it’s what Bush wants. When it comes to taxpayers’ money, government is bad, incompetent and untrustworthy. When it comes to terror, the government is all-knowing, unquestionable and incapable of error.

The media and the public were whipped into a veritable frenzy and impeachment was the word of the day back in the blowjob days of 1998. Now, in the face of far more sinister and blatant crimes, we should think once more about the “I” word, because this time it’s truly merited.

For the dull-minded who want to argue this was another important tool against terrorism, all I can say is bullshit. Even pro-Bush Instapundit said that it would have been easy to get warrants for all the illegal searches, every last one of them; there was no need for the secrecy. This is not about terrorism, it’s about government secrecy. We have no right to denounce China for its secret police system if we follow their lead.

Via Americablog.

The Discussion: 23 Comments

It sucks – the NYT did no one any favors by sitting on a story so big and so important.

That said, I am extremely skeptical they sat on it for a year in order to better promote a book. That would be insane – another paper could have come along and scooped them. No, they were cooperating with Bush, as they had in the past — they were still, I suspect, in Judy Miller mode, where they were willing to do as bush told them. The book argument is too simplistic and makes them look bad anyway. I just don’t know what the story is. But i do know that the information they revealed is incredibly damaging to Mad King George, and he is, once more, in overdrive defensive mode.

December 20, 2005 @ 12:56 am | Comment

What’s so strange about this story being suppressed for a year? It was published just in time to coincide with the publishing of the authors new book.

December 20, 2005 @ 12:44 am | Comment

That’s the trouble with American democracy. Bush authorized the ‘spying of supposedly American citizens’ for the sake and safety of good Americans. Yet your politicians and people from the mass media are trying to do him in. It sucks.

December 20, 2005 @ 1:41 am | Comment

Who the fuck is Bush to decide who is good and who is bad? Bush, who surrounds himself with the likes of Enron executives and incredibly corrupt pols and advisors who authorize torture and condone illegal wars…. What ever happened to respect for the Constitution? In the name of terrorism, we bring a student in for questioning for checking out a copy of mao’s Little Red Book from the library. The terrorism obsession is out of control. As I said, bush could have had the surveillances easily approved going by the law, but he felt he could over-ride the law, as did nixon when he authorized his own dirty tricks. As I said in my post, dimwits would justify this as Bush trying to protect us from terrorists. The news is he can do it legally, but chose not to.

December 20, 2005 @ 2:32 am | Comment

Actually, as I understand it, the article’s – and the upcoming book’s – authors were very upset that the article was held for a year. They were not the ones who made that decision. It took place at a higher level.

Given how easy it would have been for the Bush administration to follow the law and have judicial review for this surveillance (I gather the secret court has turned down exactly ONE request since it’s been in operation), you have to consider one of two possibilities: the Bush adminstration is so arrogant and out of control that it will brook no oversight or restraint on its actions of any kind, or, they did not want any judicial oversight because they don’t want anyone to know about just who it is they have put under surveillance.

Take your pick, it’s f*cking ugly no matter how you look at it.

December 20, 2005 @ 3:28 am | Comment

stuff like this makes me happy i moved to china to get away from all that horrible corruption…

oh wait…

December 20, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment

At least China doesn’t claim to be on a worldwide crusade for democracy. When it comes to brazen, shameless hypocrisy, the Busheviks are in a league of their own.

December 20, 2005 @ 5:53 am | Comment

“China doen’t claim to be on a worldwide crusade for democracy”

True, but they often claim bullshit such as “The Chinese people is a peace loving people”.

Then the next second they say they will bomb anything living off Taiwan to make them join them, claim to have “liberated” various parts of the country by killing and repressing a lot of the people there, and then they simply forget all border disputes and wars that don’t fit that pretty picture.

December 20, 2005 @ 6:21 am | Comment

The NSA Story A Layman’s Perspective

is anyone really arguing that these wiretaps were a bad thing?

What should have happened is Senators or Congressmen in either party who took issue with this policy should have raised this privately with the Whitehouse and drafted legislation that cl…

December 20, 2005 @ 7:08 am | Comment

That’s the trouble with American democracy. Bush authorized the ‘spying of supposedly American citizens’ for the sake and safety of good Americans. Yet your politicians and people from the mass media are trying to do him in. It sucks.

Yes, he should be impeached, tried, sentenced, and imprisoned. This is a crime that violates the soul of the United States. Bush’s motives are ABSOLUTELY irrelevant. You are not allowed to rob banks no matter how much money you distribute to the poor. Results are likewise ABSOLUTELY irrelevant. What’s relevant is that in doing this Bush violated the Constitution in the one way that any real American should most fear: the use of executive power without review or check, to spy on American citizens. I literally cannot understand why even a single American defends that sociopath.


December 20, 2005 @ 8:04 am | Comment

This is a definitely impeachable offense but I doubt it will happen because the Republicans control the house and senate. Impeachment of a president is a political trial as designed by the constitution so in this case it won’t happen. But do I think he is guilty of violation of the laws? YES, in addition to being an incompetent egoist.

December 20, 2005 @ 8:19 am | Comment

I’m with Michael, Lisa and Richard. Impeach the bastard. Clinton gets impeached for lying about getting a BJ in the oval office, but Bush can WILLFULLY disregard a delayed warrant system that would have allowed him to do what he was doing anyway, except do it legally? huh. sounds like bullshit to me. Impeach the man, I say!

December 20, 2005 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

I’m not all that fond of this policy, but it’s not impeachable.

Bush didn’t order a blanket order to spy on all Americans. In order for them to snoop, one of the parties has to be outside of the US and they have to be affiliated with Al-Qeada or another group linked to terrorism.

That being said, I don’t like the idea because who’s to say when and where the government will stop? If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile and the government never gives back what you have allowed them to take.

December 20, 2005 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

And Gordon, I’d add that we don’t know
who the Bush Administration is spying upon. The fact that they are unwilling to give even a secret court some oversight into their activities is very, very scary. This is the Imperial Presidency redux, an Adminstration that believes Presidential authority trumps everything else. Bush’s excuse? “We’re in a war.”

Well, look, he’s given us a “War on Terror” and that’s a war that can never, EVER be won. You can’t defeat all terrorism. It’s not possible or realistic.

So basically, this war will go on as long as they want it to go on, and the Imperial Presidency will continue indefinitely.

December 20, 2005 @ 3:45 pm | Comment

I don’t think he’s in trouble, either. Unfortunately. Dumb Americans will look at bush’s trashing of the Constitution and see it as a sign of strength, of a tough guy who will do anything to “protect Americans.” And the Dems, as always, will come across as the guys who won’t take risks and are too afraid of procedures to fight a war against terror. And I can actually see how the gullible swallow this crap. But it only takes a wee bit of digging and critical thinking (two things most Americans are averse to) to see that what Bush did protected no one and threatened far more.

December 21, 2005 @ 12:03 am | Comment

Pretty sure that it actually is illegal gordon – he’s tapping wires of people in the states, and if he does that he has to obtain a warrant within 72 hours of the tap. Otherwise it’s illegal.

Am I right?

If so, isn’t doing something illegal or ordering something that is illegal to be done reason for impeachment?

December 20, 2005 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

Ah, seriously, some of you know that I know what I’m talking about when I say:

Good spies don’t need to break the law. If a spy is any good, he can find ways to get things done without breaking the law.

December 20, 2005 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

FISA allows them to spy on someone for three days before going to a judge on the secret FISC court, which is part of my only 5 requests have ever been turned down since FISA passed in 1979.

Three days…so Bush’s ‘we need to move faster in this new type of war’ excuse is utter, total BULLSHIT.

I smell Hubert Humphrey-esque shennanigans, and that kind of BS is EXACTLY why FISA clearly says that such spying on American Citizens on US soil is forbidden aside from some other STATUTORY provision. And his “the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) post-911” let us do it argument is moot also. If that were the case, then why did they need the acursed Patriot Act on top of it for other, lesser, domestic spying?

Secret courts, secret legal opinions, secret regulations and secret review by the same branch of government….I can think of little else that would be more UnAmerican than this mess!

Oh, hi Richard! Nice to be on the same side as you politically, finally, in a deep-in-my bones fashion!!


-David Mercer
Tucson, AZ

December 20, 2005 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

If China really bombed Taiwan, the Americans are to be blamed. If in 1949, they did not interfere with China’s civil war between the CCP and KMT, this problem would not have existed today.

Americans like ‘to shit’ all over the place, trying to impose their damm western democracy upon others, and silly enough, at the expense of the American people.

Look at Vietnam and many other countries; You asked for it, you got it.

After losing thousands of American lives, Vietnam is still unified Vietnam.

If China really bombed Taiwan, you believe Americans are prepared to sacrifice thousands of lives just to prevent it from happening. But I can tell you this, the Chinese are prepared to die for their motherland. And, you Americans better take this seriously.

The only fortunate thing about America is that, your politicians, and, for their own selfish gain, will have no chioce, but to bow to public pressure. And, also fortunately enough, smart Americans do not want to lose their sons fighting for other people’s cause.


December 20, 2005 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

Er, Benny…


December 20, 2005 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Laowai, I suppose the courts will judge. It’s in the open now thanks to the stupid idiots in the Bush Administration.

At any rate, I don’t thin he’s in trouble.

December 20, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

Latest speculation is that the Bush Administration may have avoided the courts because they were data mining using Echelon – here

December 20, 2005 @ 11:49 pm | Comment


MaCarthyism is visiting the United States again! Expect more Salem witch trials here to root out those who dare speck against Bush and his henchmen.

Rightists and conservatives just would never get sick of spying, torturing and fact-twisting.

To them, the Bill of Rights was only as valuable as the Treaty of Versailles.

December 21, 2005 @ 8:48 am | Comment

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