Thursday, January 15, 2009

Make That One Less Blanket Pardon, Please

Bruce Fein has long been certain that President Bush has committed impeachable offenses via the electronic surveillance program's use of warrantless wire taps. As a result, Fein has also been on the lookout for Bush to pardon himself and/or issue unprecedented-blanket-preemptive-turbo-pardons to cover all of the tracks of his "illegal surveillance."

Today, however, it is reported that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review issued a unanimous opinion almost a half year ago:
"... validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved."
This, of course, highlights the fact that when Fein, and others like him, have used the word "illegal" all of these years, what they really meant was "what we really wish was illegal" or "what we hope some court some day might declare illegal" or "what we would make illegal for Bush, if we had the power to do so." See New York Times story here. See the full court opinion here.


Jon Marcus said...

Considering that the court was ruling on a law passed in 2007, I'm not sure how this invalidates Fein's criticisms of the executive branch.

The court affirmed that a law passed by Congress and signed by the President is legitimate and constitutional. It did not make any judgement on the whether the executive could unilaterally make the same decisions.

Fein may be wrong (although I don't think he is) but this decision does nothing to show that he is.

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

EDITOR:You are right. There is always reason to not be "sure" as to what might happen when/if some court, in the future, focuses what might be characterized as "unilateral" decisions, regardless of the signals sent by this particular decision. And 30 more decisions (with 30 more signals) could all still easily be distinguished from a particular hypothetical scenario in which Fein's speculations regarding this particular topic could remain credible. Hope springs eternal!

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