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Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007 09:49 am

Democrats cave again

Why did Congress authorize warrantless wiretaps?

Untitled Document Once upon a time, America had a strong president who reassured the American people that they had nothing to fear but fear itself. Now we have a weak president who tells us that we must be fearful of all things all the time. He uses fear as a political pump to inflate his own ego and power. He even color-codes fear for us, always keeping the colors flame-hot. This summer, he used the scorching rhetoric of fear to cow congressional Democrats, scaring them into rubber-stamping a blatant subversion of our constitutional liberties. Fanning the fears of terrorist attacks, Bush stampeded Democrats to rush through a law letting the White House eavesdrop on your and my phone calls and e-mails without bothering to get search warrants. This new warrantless-spying law gives the U.S. Attorney General carte blanche to order that any of our international calls or electronic messages be monitored if he decides on his own that we might be communicating with someone who might be outside the U.S. who might or might not have even vague connections to some terrorist group. Yes, this means that our precious privacy is in the grasping hands of Alberto “See No Evil” Gonzales. He can click into entire telecommunications networks to intercept millions of innocent messages without having to show probable cause of illegal activity. Congress ceded this extraordinary reach to the executive even though there’s already a special court in place to authorize surveillance of legitimate terrorist suspects — and to do it constitutionally. Bush’s law is not about protecting Americans from terrorists, but about protecting the Bush-Cheney regime from the Constitution. It’s arrogant nonsense for the Bushites to assert that they’re above the law — but it’s shameful cowardice for the scaredy-cat Democratic leadership to go along with it.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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