World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Democrats Hold Hearing on Illegal Spying - Conyers

Democrats Hold Hearing on Illegal Spying
By Congressman John Conyers Jr.
Statement

Friday 20 January 2006

There can be no doubt that today we are in a constitutional crisis that threatens the system of checks and balances that has preserved our fundamental freedoms for more than 200 years. There is no better illustration of that crisis than the fact that the president is openly violating our nation's laws by authorizing the NSA to engage in warrantless surveillance of US citizens.

The Bush Administration offers two arguments to justify their actions. First, they assert, that warrantless searches were authorized by the Afghanistan use of force resolution. Second, they say, the Constitution permits and even mandates such actions. To this member and indeed to most of our nation's legal community, neither argument is remotely plausible or credible.

As for the Administration's claim of statutory authority, a plain reading of the text of the resolution reveals that there is no reference whatsoever to domestic surveillance. Former Majority Leader Daschle told us that the resolution was narrowed from the Administration's initial request to avoid such construction, and the Attorney General went so far as to admit that they were told by Members of Congress that it would be "difficult if not impossible" to amend the law to authorize such a program. As Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe wrote me, "to argue that one couldn't have gotten congressional authorization ... after arguing that ... one did get congressional authorization ... takes some nerve."

In terms of inherent constitutional authority, this too flies in the face of both common sense and legal precedent. If the Supreme Court didn't let President Truman use this authority to take over the steel mills during the Korean War in 1952, and wouldn't let President Bush use the authority to indefinitely hold enemy combatants in 2005, it is quite obvious the constitution doesn't allow warrantless wiretapping of US citizens today. As Justice O'Connor wrote, "a state of war is not a blank check."

Perhaps what is most troubling of all is that if we let this domestic spying program continue, if we let this president convince us that we are at war, so he can do what he wants, we will allow to stand the principle that the president alone can decide what laws apply to him. I submit that is not only inconsistent with the principles upon which our Republic was founded, it denigrates the very freedom we have been fighting for since the tragic events of September 11. That is why we are holding today's hearing.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news