Friday, December 23, 2005

Daschle: Congress forbade domestic war powers

Tom Daschle, majority leader of the senate when the legislation authorizing the president to combat terrorism with all force necessary, says that when this was up for consideration the congress expressly denied the administration expanded powers domestically. In today's Washington Post Daschle writes:
On the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, the White House proposed that Congress authorize the use of military force to "deter and pre-empt any future acts of terrorism or aggression against the United States." Believing the scope of this language was too broad and ill defined, Congress chose instead, on Sept. 14, to authorize "all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided" the attacks of Sept. 11. With this language, Congress denied the president the more expansive authority he sought and insisted that his authority be used specifically against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words "in the United States and" after "appropriate force" in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.
If this is the truth, and there is no reason to believe it is not, one of the central defenses offered by the administration to justify the NSA spy program is demonstrated to be a lie. If the administration tried to add language to the authorization to allow expanded powers domestically, and that was explicitly denied, they can not now credibly claim that the authorization allowed for them to have expanded powers domestically. It really is just that simple.

The administration knows full well they could not get the language they wished for in the authorization, yet they proceeded to violate the intent of the congress. How is this not impeachable? The justifications they have used are now demonstrated lies. The administration breaks the law with impunity if there are no ramifications from this activity. The koolaid drinkers in congress seriously need to consider their role in bringing down our democracy, and fulfill their oversight role, even if it hurts their party. It is time to put the good of the constitution before the good of their party, or for us citizens to put them out of office in 2006. I believe a platform of impeachment should be front and center for those wishing to be elected in 2006. Lets call it the constitutional protection plank in our platform.

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