There can be no serious question that warrantless wiretapping, in violation of the law, is impeachable. After all, Nixon was charged in Article II of his bill of impeachment with illegal wiretapping for what he, too, claimed were national security reasons.It's a few paragraphs down the page. I wanted to get to the good part (about the impeachable acts of the 43rd President of the United States of America) right away. But how does Dean support that point, you ask? Here you go:
Through the FBI, Nixon had wiretapped five members of his national security staff, two newsmen, and a staffer at the Department of Defense. These people were targeted because Nixon's plans for dealing with Vietnam -- we were at war at the time -- were ending up on the front page of the New York Times.See kids? The issue is not, as Fred Honsberger put it this afternoon on his radio show, about making sure the President can "go after known terrorists" but whether the president, who took an oath to "Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,"actually broke the law while "going after the terrorists." The Honzman's clear implication, of course, is that we traitors who are complaining about Bush really don't want him to "go after the terrorists." We're the traitors for demanding that he follow the Constitution.
Nixon had a plausible national security justification for the wiretaps: To stop the leaks, which had meant that not only the public, but America's enemies, were privy to its plans. But the use of the information from the wiretaps went far beyond that justification: A few juicy tidbits were used for political purposes. Accordingly, Congress believed the wiretapping, combined with the misuse of the information it had gathered, to be an impeachable offense.
Following Nixon's resignation, Senator Frank Church chaired a committee that investigated the uses and abuses of the intelligence derived from the wiretaps. From his report on electronic surveillance, emerged the proposal to create the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Act both set limits on electronic surveillance, and created a secret court within the Department of Justice - the FISA Court -- that could, within these limits, grant law enforcement's requests to engage in electronic surveillance.
The legislative history of FISA makes it very clear that Congress sought to create laws to govern the uses of warrantless wiretaps. Thus, Bush's authorization of wiretapping without any application to the FISA Court violated the law.[emphasis added]
No one questions the ends here. No one doubts another terror attack is coming; it is only a question of when. No one questions the preeminent importance of detecting and preventing such an attack.I've heard an argument bubble up out of the cesspool of offensive evasions that pass for republican debating points these days. Some right wing blowhard will spout that "lib'ruls used to complain that Bush didn't do enough to defend the country before 9/11 (he/she/Ann Coulter might even bring up the PDB from August, 2001 at this point) and now they're complaining that he's doing too much!"
What is at issue here, instead, is Bush's means of achieving his ends: his decision not only to bypass Congress, but to violate the law it had already established in this area.
Allow me to reiterate: it's not about anything other than the fact that George Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America instructed the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on citizens of the United States of America, in direct violation of FISA and the 4th Amendment.
I'll keep saying it until it happens: