Bush Goes on Safari to Find Friendly Faces
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President Bush is in Africa this week, sulking because he didnâ€™t get his way.
In one of the rare times the past seven years, the House of Representatives, now under Democrat control for the first time in 12 years, defended the Constitution and refused to allow the President to bully it with a program of fear mongering. He really tried, though.
In a Feb. 15 speech, the President, mad at yet another delay in voting on the Protect America Act, harrumphed, â€œ[B]y blocking this piece of legislation our country is more in danger of an attack. â€¦ [T]he House leaders must understand that the decision they made to block good legislation has made it harder for us to protect you, the American people.â€ Not through with his saber-rattling, the President declared that not only would he veto an extension he would cancel a scheduled visit to five African nations and, maybe for all we know, hold his breath until the House acquiesced to his will.
In August, Congress had passed the Protect America Act, designed as a six-month temporary â€œfixâ€ to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The modified Act would have further strangled Americansâ€™ civil liberties by reducing judicial oversight and by removing the constitutional provision from FISA that for federal law enforcement to obtain a court warrant for surveillance, it needed to show probable cause that the target is a â€œforeign powerâ€ or an â€œagent of a foreign power.â€
However, the most controversial part of the Protect America Act was that it gave immunity to several national telecommunications companies, which had willingly acceded to government requests to illegally and secretly monitor the phone conversations of millions of American citizens. If the 40 lawsuits currently on file were to proceed, significant information about the governmentâ€™s illegal and unconstitutional actions the past six years would be revealed.
Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist, is professor of mass communications at Bloomsburg University and occasional ASZ contributor. His latest book is Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, available at amazon.com and other bookstores. You may contact Brasch through his website, www.walterbrasch.com