Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Al Gore speaks out

Al Gore says that the President broke the law in ordering warrantless wiretapping.

For some perspective on what Gore’s boss thought during his time in the White House, go here and here, as well as (for an even longer perspective) here.

Update: Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has more.

Update #2: Byron York was there.

Discussions - 16 Comments

None of the Carter or Clinton comments or court cases deal with the issue here: whether the President has inherent authority to break an otherwise valid law, repeatedly and over the course of severel years, for foreign intelligence surveillance purposes.

The Du Pont piece is so sloppy that it can’t even get the court in the Truong opinion right. Gateway pundit confuses the issue of warrantless searches - which everyone acknowledges are valid in some cases - with warrantless wiretapping that seems to be specifically prohibited by FISA.

No one has produced evidence that Clinton ordered violations of FISA. Period. Every indication is that he attempted to comply with the law. Probably having an opposition party in control of Congress provided some incentives in that regard.


What do you make of this argument, offered by a former Clinton Administration official?

Schmidt’s argument is mixed in with some of the irrelevant stuff that the right has thrown at this issue - Gorelick’s statements on physical searches, for example; they’re covered in a separate section in the act and were the subject of debate when FISA was amended in 1994, but Clinton still apparently complied with the law. Statements in opposition to pending legislation are hardly great evidence of subsequent official administration views, especially since Clinton didn’t veto the legislation. But pared down to the essentials, Schmidt’s point is similar to Mansfield’s in the article that Peter linked to earlier.

Even if you think that Article II gives the President power to break otherwise valid law - an interpretation I don’t think we want to normalize - you’ve still got the question of how the President should respond to a law that he believes is unconstitutional. Here, it seems that Bush just broke the law for several years, told everyone to shut up about it, and then catapulted the propaganda, to use a phrase, when it became public. I don’t think that Bush can rely on historical support from Lincoln for such a sequence of actions, but maybe I’m wrong.

Nice job, Brett! The ACLU (of which I am proud to be a member) just announced a lawsuit against the NSA, today.

Maybe, Fung, you won’t be so proud of your ACLU membership the next time we have a 9/11. Or maybe you will. But I hope you have the decency, at some point, to stop posting on conservative blogs. You might raise the intelligence level on KOS or DU, marginally. On No Left Turns, I can’t see that you make any contribution at all.

No way. Seeing Fung argue with Dain is much more interesting than reading a conservative echo chamber.

From my post at Frontpage magazine.......

I am so thankful this bozo is not the president. Now check this. Al apparently did not............

"Benjamin Franklin (whose 300th birthday is today) would not have thought so. In 1776 he and his four colleagues on the Continental Congress’s foreign affairs committee (called the Committee of Secret Correspondence) unanimously agreed that they could not tell the Congress about the covert assistance France was giving the American Revolution, because it would be harmful to America if the information leaked, and "we find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets."

Things haven’t changed much has it?

Al Gore? Thank our founders for the Electoral College.

The safety of my wife, family and nation is more important than any ACLU fifth columnist lawsuit to undermine our defenses. BTW, fung, brett, cite specific cases where Americans have been imprisoned for violating the patriot act. Padilla, moussaia do not count.

If a Mamoud with Al-Queda connections calls a Hassan in Detroit I would like to know what the h*** the conversation was about. Under Article II in our, there is no need to rehash it. Just go to.........

But you may be to lazy to go to it. It is much better to simply attack "Chimp W. Hitler". But then that is an easy way out.

Gore is a vicious lunatic who is probably crazy enough to commit treason. His arrogance and hatred are almost unbelievable in a major public figure. But there they are. A party that cannot repudiate Al Gore lock, stock and barrel is not only too morally bankrupt to govern. They are too rotten to listen to.

To the poster who bemoaned the possibility of a "conservative echo chamber," I say, only if people agree on certain fundamentals can a real conversation take place. Anything else is just mental masturbation.

Mr. Frisk, are you serious? Gore is a "Vicious lunatic"? "Crazy"?

And you’re actually asking people whom with you disagree to not post comments here?

Your approach to society and politics, and the discussions dealing with them, is very disturbing.

Thanks, OV and Frank.

David, I am bothered, too, when people strive to silence those who would disagree.

It seems to me that, in the long run, if we are lucky enough to enjoy a long run, it is the built-in checks & balances that provide the "governor," or the true conservative function that makes our system unique and hopefully, strong.

Left unchecked, lefties would probably screw things up in a big way, and I believe the same is true of the right.

Dissent, discussion, oversight, and protest are all important parts of what have made this country what it is. Sorry that you don’t like it.

There’s more to chew on here, here, and here.

Thanks, Joe. Very helpful stuff. In addition to the reasoned, systematic thinking about this issue, I appreciated this from the Hewitt interview:

HH: All right. Now let’s talk about how this gets to the courts for review, because I frankly don’t see any way for this program to get to the courts for review, unless and until any of the information is used against the suspect, if that suspect is capable of actually finding that out. Do you see judicial review of this occurring in any way?

CS: You’re completely right. You have to find someone who has standing to object to this. And so what you’d have to find is an American citizen whose been tapped, or intruded on in a way that results in harm. Now if someone’s phone has been tapped, and there’s been nothing done with it, there’s an argument that there’s standing there. But it’s very possible this won’t be litigated at all.

David- Whatever the outcome, the ACLU performs the function of testing and resolving this issue! Isn’t that a good thing?

Gore’s mental problems are obvious.

I am not trying to silence anyone. I am suggesting that someone as off-base as Mr. "Fung" contributes nothing to this site and should really speak out elsewhere. I am also saying what I think of his comments. Insults are not an attempt to silence, unless they come from someone with the ability to silence.

I never said that everyone whom I "disagree with" shouldn’t post here. I said there is little point in dialogue unless there is SOME agreement. I asked only Fung to get lost, not the rest of you.

As for the alleged value of the ACLU --
"testing and resolving the issue" -- well, I guess Stalin tested and resolved quite a lot in the Soviet Union, too. No, I’m not comparing them.
I’m saying that you have to ask, at what cost to self-government, national security, and culture are these issues resolved, let alone resolved the ACLU’s way?

In theory, an American Civil Liberties Union is a good idea. In practice, they are dangerous extremists who are whittling down self-government day by day.

David- Can you name any person or organization that effectively and practically challenges your ideal, that is NOT dangerous, or crazy?

I just picked up this gem from another post on this site:

Comment 1 by David Frisk [E-Mail]

The liberals are all for open discussion and "dialogue," except when they aren’t.

Look people, it’s as clear as the nose on your face. The President’s inherent power as Commander-in-Chief allows him to do whatever he deems necessary. If this includes running out of the White House naked with a machete, slicing anyone within striking distance on a jog over to the National Archives, decapitating a little girl standing in line and then using her corpse to strangle a little boy while he brutalizes him in unspeakable and unnatural ways, and capping it off with some furious pounding on the case that holds the Constitution, it is perfectly within his rights to do so. That’s that!

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