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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Open Letter: Congress Cannot Ignore the President's Lawbreaking

George Bush has now acknowledged repeatedly authorizing NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens on American soil for more than three years. Although Bush's supporters are trying to cloud the issue, this is a clear violation of the 1978 FISA statute, as Attorney General Gonzales admits:

. . . the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides -- requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow -- there is -- unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires. Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence.

That Bush's actions violate FISA is not in dispute. Gonzales and Bush claim that their authority for this surveillance derives from the post-9/11 resolution authorizing the president to use "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks. That claim is very much in dispute.

Former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle insists that the White House requested wording in that resolution to authorize activities within the United States, and that wording was explicitly rejected. Moreover, Gonzales acknowledges it would be "difficult, if not impossible" to persuade Congress to explicitly authorize this activity:

We have had discussions with Congress in the past -- certain members of Congress -- as to whether or not FISA could be amended to allow us to adequately deal with this kind of threat, and we were advised that that would be difficult, if not impossible.

Any objective individual will conclude that Bush has repeatedly broken the law, and has stated plainly that he intends to continue.

My question to you, Congressman Kline, is: Do you believe it is appropriate for the President of the United States to willfully and repeatedly violate the law, making his own determination about appropriate concern for U.S. citizens rights and probable cause? If so, then what is the purpose of Congress and the Judiciary?

If your answer is no, then how should Congress respond to Bush's lawbreaking? I find it intolerable that Congress should sit idly by while the President breaks the law. Either the law must change, or the President must change. Congress must investigate George Bush's actions. If Congress makes the determination that his actions were proper, then the law must be changed to explicitly grant the executive the power to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Otherwise, George Bush must be impeached. To ignore Bush's lawbreaking and carry on business as usual dangerously weakens Congress as a co-equal branch of government.

Congressman Kline, you are one of 435 individuals who must decide how Congress will act. I hope you do not choose the course of weakness and complacency.

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