Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Editorial Roundup: Bush Plays Big Brother


News from the DNC:

Washington, DC Editorial boards across the country resoundingly panned President Bushs performance during a Monday morning news conference dominated by questions about a secret program to spy on American citizens and his continuing failure to explain his actions and decisions on the program.

The following are excerpts of recent editorials:

Austin American Statesman: Americans can't settle for Bush's trust me defense of spy program. Under our Constitution, presidents must work with Congress and the courts -- even when fighting a war against Islamic extremists?In short, it's getting harder to shout "war" to squelch political opposition to the executive branch's reach for more power. Americans won't settle for "trust me" -- and neither should Congress. (12/20/05)

The Asheville Citizen-Times (North Carolina): Bush's domestic spying a flagrant abuse of power. Outrage. In the end, that's really the only reaction applicable to President Bush's acknowledgement Saturday that he has for years OK'd secret spying on U.S. citizens inside these borders?Illegal or not, it sure fits a pattern of secrecy, of big brother knows best, and of reckless disregard toward the hard-earned rights of the citizens of this nation. (12/20/05)

The Arizona Republic: Warrantless eavesdropping a chilling specter. Short of imprisonment in the tower on order of the king, it is difficult to imagine a phrase that more chillingly raises the specter of imperial big-brotherism than warrantless eavesdropping. (12/20/05)

The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.): Freedom threatened by unbridled arrogance of our leaders. [F]reedom is best served when no arm of government is above review by a disinterested authority, such as a judge?The president acts as if his authority cannot be challenged as long as he invokes the war on terrorism mantra. Fortunately, more and more Americans are coming to understand how freedom also can threatened by the unbridled arrogance of their leaders. (12/21/05)

Contra Costa Times: Bushs defiance and outrage. President Bush remains defiant in defense of his secret domestic wiretaps, eavesdropping on suspected terrorists. His outrage about the public disclosure of his surveillance program is itself an outrage. So is his claim that his constitutional power as Commander-in-Chief and the congressional resolution that authorized the use of military force against terrorists give him the authority to order surveillance without court approval. (12/21/05)

USA Today: Bush puts himself above the law. Not since the days when Richard Nixon was fighting the Cold War, the Vietnam War and a rising tide of domestic unrest has an administration felt so emboldened by circumstances to put itself above the law and expand its powers unilaterally. (12/19/05)

San Francisco Chronicle: Spy Program reckless and arrogant. The White House is paying the price for its reckless and arrogant intelligence gathering?No one denies intelligence agencies need updated powers to track and arrest terrorists?But this is an administration that repeatedly evades constitutional safeguards and norms of fair treatment. (12/19/05)

Philadelphia Daily News: President Bush cannot be trusted to protect our civil liberties. It's clear now that this administration cannot be trusted to protect our civil liberties?This is not an administration that would allow a few laws - or even the Bill of Rights - to get in the way of waging the war on terror its way. (12/19/05)

Miami Herald: Dismantle domestic spying program. The program should be dismantled. Terrorists can be caught and punished without sacrificing the privacy rights of ordinary citizens. (12/19/05)

Deseret Morning News: Government should not spy on its citizens without impunity. The United States must never degenerate into a nation where a powerful central government can spy on its citizens with impunity. Power must be checked. In this case, investigators must prove to a court that they need information before they obtain it. (12/19/05)

St. Petersburg Times: Government cannot be above the law. There has never been nor could there ever be any greater danger to the United States than a government that considers itself above the law. President Bush was combative and even arrogant during his news conference Monday? In so saying, he raised a question with nightmare ramifications: Is there any law that he feels bound to respect? (12/20/05)

Philadelphia Inquirer: Bush decision to sidestep the Constitution is morally repugnant. President sidestepped the Constitution in late 2002 by ordering the National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly eavesdrop on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of U.S. residents without first obtaining court approval?[T]hat's simply unacceptable. No president unilaterally should be able to declare that a part of the Bill of Rights is null and void. Bush appears to have done it for no good reason - other than that his rule-bending legal advisors concocted a rationale to enable a shockingly expansive view of presidential power?The President's thesis, that as commander-in-chief he could sidestep the Fourth Amendment protections, is as unfathomable as it is morally repugnant. (12/20/05)

Lexington Herald-Leader: Hard to believe Bush arguments on FISA courts. Bush defends years of spying on citizens without court supervision as necessary to protect Americans in a time of war. But federal agencies already had the right to spy on a citizen suspected of having terrorism ties for 72 hours. A warrant from a secretive, special court was needed to continue spying. It's hard to believe that a warrant would be denied for a legitimate case?Americans of all political stripes value the little bit of privacy we have left in this high-tech world. (12/20/05)

Chicago Tribune: Bush overreached badly with spy program. [B]y launching a secret program that involves spying on Americans, [the Bush Administration] has overreached badly, and unnecessarily. President Bush not only defends what he's done but vows to keep doing it, never mind the evidence that he is acting in violation of the law. If he persists in pressing beyond the bounds of presidential war-making authority, it will be up to Congress to press back and restore a sensible balance of powers. (12/20/05)

Boston Globe: President should not sacrifice civil liberties. President Bush is wrong to sacrifice Americans' civil liberties needlessly by resorting to a secret presidential order to authorize warrantless surveillance of phone calls and e-mails within the United States?No president should be allowed to create a law-free zone in which government agencies spy on people in this country without legal authorization from Congress and warrants from a court (12/20/05)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Extraordinary grab at power is wrong. After September 11, We did not, for example, change from a democracy to a dictatorship, from a nation of laws to a nation in which one man endows himself with the authority to act above the law, immune to its dictates and limitations. We are not that country. We must never become that country. However, to hear President Bush, we are that country already. He proclaimed it so in secret shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and he proclaims it so in public now that news of his extraordinary grab at power has leaked to the citizens. (12/20/05)

New York Times: Administration uses terror as an excuse to spy on Americans. Chillingly, this is not the only time we've heard of this administration using terrorism as an excuse to spy on Americans. NBC News recently discovered a Pentagon database of 1,500 suspicious incidents that included a Quaker meeting to plan an antiwar rally. And Eric Lichtblau writes in today's Times that F.B.I. counterterrorism squads have conducted numerous surveillance operations since Sept. 11, 2001, on groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Greenpeace and the Catholic Workers group. (12/20/05)


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