“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
“I don’t give a goddamn, I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”:
Whether Thompson’s sources are correct or not, Bush did more-or-less utter them again today when discussing recent allegations of domestic spying:
So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy, while safeguarding our civil liberties.
Bush cited his authority as stemming from Article II of the Constitution. Let’s review the pertinent section of Article II:
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
There’s no mention of domestic spying contained therein. But there is a Constitutional Amendment which does cover the issue:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Bush also stated another source of supposed legal authority:
And after September the 11th, the United States Congress also granted me additional authority to use military force against al Qaeda.
Even if domestic spying was the intent (which I strongly doubt) of Congress at that time they voted, it is irrelevant as Congress does not have the direct power to modify the Constitution. I haven’t seen a single state ratifying an Amendment which throws the Fourth Amendment into the dustbin.
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
Bush also went on the attack about the Patriot Act:
Another vital tool in the war on terror is the Patriot Act. After September the 11th, Congress acted quickly and responsibly by passing this law, which provides our law enforcement and intelligence community key tools to prevent attacks in our country. The Patriot Act tore down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence authorities from sharing vital information about terrorist threats. It allows federal investigators to pursue terrorists with tools already used against other types of criminals. America’s law enforcement personnel have used this critical tool to prosecute terrorist operatives and their supporters, and to breakup cells here in America.
Again, that pesky little Bill of Rights seems to be the problem, but Bush does not seem at all concerned. Whether Bush did or didn’t utter the words in question, he truly lives them on a daily basis.
Which begs one more question. Since we also are in the middle of a War on Drugs, can Bush and Co. use their authority to violate the constitutional rights of medical or recreational drug users?
Oops, I forgot. They already do.