Saturday, May 13, 2006

Where There's Smoke . . . There's Cheney and Addington

Marty Lederman

It was only a matter of time, right? This can't come as a surprise to anyone by now: The New York Times reports that the idea of engaging in electronic surveillance in violation of FISA was hatched by the Vice President's Office, on the theory that the President has the constitutional authority to run roughshod on piddling technicalities such as laws enacted in conformity with our constitutional design.

The story appears to have been leaked by those sympathetic to the NSA and General Hayden. The thrust of their account is that we should be grateful that the NSA surveillance is not much, much broader than has been; the only reason the program does not extend to surveilling purely domestic calls (rather than "merely" obtaining records of them) is that the NSA pushed back against Cheney and Addington.

It is increasingly clear that if any accurate and instructive histories are ever to be written about the Bush Administration, they will need to be much more focused on the Vice President's Office than previous presidential studies. My sense, and that of others who have been mcuh closer than I to the crucial debates within the Administration, is that there are a lot of people who have stories of Cheney and Addington they are anxious to tell, once there is no further prospect of professional retailiation.

This is an appropriate occasion for a partial response to Sandy Levinson's recent posts. Sandy, there are two reasons why Bush remains in office, and neither of them has anything to do with legal and historical testimony of Cass Sunstein and Sean Wilentz. The first is that the Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. The second is that even if the Democrats controlled both houses, impeachment and conviction of the President would only make matters worse -- much, much worse. See the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, section 1.


I think Sandy is close, but my view is the problem was not with character so much as societal undercurrents; and in the process, at least with respect to the Clinton years, the Independent Counsel law gave way to the Special Prosecutor. See my comments in Sandy's thread about congress' need to continue to improve OSP if that is all we have, as Treanor warned. See linked papers in the other thread.

This addresses one of your topics. The other is monumental; got to read NYT.

Cheney and Rumsfeld and John Yoo and William Haynes II are the worst things to happen to this country in a long time.

There are some good people (including the authors of this blog, whom I respect immensely), but they just get buried.

I can't believe I forgot David Addington on the list of bad people in the Cheney gang in my above post... my apologies. Consider him included.

Remember back in the day when we were all worried about Ashcroft? Those were the days...

Someone needs to blog re the state secrets doctrine. I think this is the very next legal issue, as it being used as a defense in the EFT case and threatens the entire Constitution.

I'm the one that's got to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.
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