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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Will: NSA spying is obviously illegal

George F. Will recently reminded his readers that no genuine conservative could really ever embrace what the administration is arguing in the domestic spying controversy, unless they favor a government of men and not of law:
perhaps no future president will ask for such congressional involvement in the gravest decision government makes -- going to war. Why would future presidents ask, if the present administration successfully asserts its current doctrine? It is that whenever the nation is at war, the other two branches of government have a radically diminished pertinence to governance, and the president determines what that pertinence shall be. This monarchical doctrine emerges from the administration's stance that warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency targeting American citizens on American soil is a legal exercise of the president's inherent powers as commander in chief, even though it violates the clear language of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was written to regulate wartime surveillance.
Will lambasts the administration for "incoherently" arguing that FISA was superceded by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

He also points out how the administration, in the context of Supreme Court appointments, criticizes judges who would find unstated legal authority outside the text of the constitution or statutes.

Sheer hypocrisy.

Will references "the Constitution's plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws 'necessary and proper' for the execution of all presidential powers" (emphasis in original).

This critique is obviously gaining some traction, because the administration now says it wants Congress to authorize what it has already been doing. A number of Republicans in Congress, including Senators Lindsay Graham, Pat Roberts, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter, are leading the charge.

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