A further claim of extraordinary executive powers
WASHINGTON A footnote in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's 42-page legal memo defending President Bush's domestic spying program appears to argue that the administration does not need Congress to extend the USA Patriot Act in order to keep using the law's investigative powers against terror suspects.
If this is the case, at what limit does the executive's powers lie?
A secondary issue in all ths is that the power to designate someone as a terror suspect is currently solely claimed by the executive as well, a designation they have been attempting to extend to include "environmental terrorists" and "narco-terrorists" (drug dealers.) There is no ability to challenge the status of "terror suspect" and as far as I can tell, no burden of proof, and no review by anyone outside the administration.
It also calls into question the official status of the antiwar protesters who showed up on the DoD's watch list. The NSA is a part of the Defense Department, so does an appearance on the DoD's threats list warrant terrorist status avail the government the justification during "war time" to tap their phones and conduct "sneak and peek" no notification searches?
In effect, the Bush administration has claimed the ability to spy on anyone. But it's worse than that.
Once a subject is designated as a terror suspect, this administration has claimed the power to tap their phones, and examine any business records without warrant(medical, financial, psychological,) and search their residence all without review. To then detain them without charge, to ship them off to a "black site" base or "friendly" country for aggressive interrogation or outright torture. And then to use that information to designate others as "terror suspects" and potentially repeat the whole process in an exponentially exapanding tree.
Explain again to me just freedoms you are protecting, Mr. Bush. The freedom of "security of person" is the base right from which all other gurantees flow. It is the first guarantted right in the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the US is a signatory.
"Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person."
Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
At this point, it appears that these programs are affecting thousands, maybe tens of thousands in a country of 300 million. But there is no effective limit to the scale of powers claimed by this administration. One is too many.
The pieces are in place, folks.
I would love to hear Bush answer the question, "what are the limits to the powers you claim?"