The Mix

George Bush: still above the law

What other laws and amendments does the president feel authorized to violate?
I've written about how George Bush is Above the Law before. But this time he's outdone himself. Let me explain why this violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is so much more egregious than his previous transgressions. It's not that he violated a federal statute -- he's done that before. It's not that he circumvented the constitution -- he's been there before. It's his defense that makes this case stand out so much.

The President and his Attorney General claim that the President has the "inherent authority" as commander in chief to violate FISA and the Fourth Amendment. They also say Congress's authorization of military force after the September 11th attacks gave the President broad authority to ignore the strictures of this federal law and use whatever force internationally and domestically that he saw fit.

This obviously leads to the question of ... what other laws has he felt compelled to ignore? What other statutes does he feel authorized to violate? What other amendments have proven inconvenient and been sidestepped?

If the President feels he has the authority to clearly break one federal law, how many others does he feel he has the authority to break? If the President doesn't need to abide by the Fourth Amendment, does he have to abide by any of the rest?

And if you're a Republican who adores this President so much that you will stand by his every decision, I urge you to finally use some caution here. If you set the precedent that a President can ignore any of the amendments he feels impede the security of this country, what will stop a Democratic president from ignoring the second amendment to take away the guns of potential "enemies of the state"?

If this President has used the FBI and the Pentagon to spy on anti-war and other political opposition groups domestically, what will stop a Democratic President from spying on right-wing militia groups and pro-life organizations that might turn violent?

President Bush is playing his favorite game -- opening up Pandora's Box and seeing what flies out. If you thought that was a bad idea in Iraq, wait till you get a load of it here.

Once you allow the President to be above the law, there is no telling what could happen. Even if you like this President, there will one day be a President you don't like quite as much. It's almost as if the founding fathers were right to limit the powers of the executive branch. Smart fellows, those founders were. Maybe it's not such a good idea to ignore that little constitution they wrote.
Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide.