Holding the President to accountCriticizing the President is not something I do lightly, especially since I share much in common with him in terms of political philosophy…at least the political philosophy he promoted when he first ran in 2000. I also voted for the President twice, and in 2000 I did my part for his campaign to win the White House. I believed in George W. Bush, and I still have a great belief in his personal goodness as a human being, and in his faith in God.
I also have a few principles, however, that go well beyond the Republican Party line. My principles are not what they are because I am a Republican-I am a Republican because it is the party that is most in line with my personal beliefs. When a member of either party takes actions that endanger the most basic liberties of the American people, that person needs to be held to account, even if he is the President of the United States.
The admission by the President yesterday in his weekly radio address that he signed an order that allowed for the interception of e-mails, wiretaps, and the collection of other information without warrant of American citizens who the National Security Agency deemed to be terrorist threats is an inexcusable act of tyranny in a free society, whether the President intended it as such or not. Citizens’ constitutional rights cannot simply be waived because the President or the NSA sees some threat. There is a constitutional procedure in place, and as David Gergen was quick to point out, it wouldn’t have taken much at all to get warrants from a federal judge if the people in question were truly a threat. The White House just didn’t want to let the Constitution get in the way of the “War” on Terror, did they?
Add to this the lamentable provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which would allow incidents like the President’s order to become common occurrences of made permanent.
Senator John Sununu was right in his speech on the Senate floor to quote Benjamin Franklin: “He who would give up his liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.”
The Democrats’ opposition to this atrocious legislation is fleeting. After all, the Feds asked for these kinds of powers when Clinton was in office and Congress balked. What’s more, I fail to believe for one second that if Gore had been elected in 2000, and not Bush, that Gore would not have asked for similar measures in the wake of September 11th. Had a Democrat asked for such sweeping power to be granted to the federal government, Republicans rightly would have screamed bloody murder and all but had Algore tarred and feathered along Constitution Avenue. Instead, we are called as good patriotic Americans and good Republicans to support this oppressive tripe because the President thinks it’s a good idea. Well, September 11th did not cause me to lose my good sense, and I would hope I am not the only Republican who has kept their wits about them since that time.
Some of my very good Republican friends may wonder why I am so passionately opposed to the administration on these sorts of questions, and I would respond that the reason I feel so strongly is because of the precedent that it sets. If a Republican administration can circumvent the Constitution to apprehend terrorists, than any future administration can do the same to any person or people it deems a threat to itself.
If you don’t think it could happen, you trust the government far more than the founders of our country believed you should.