President Bush should be censured by Congress for acting on the belief that he has the authority to set aside federal statutes passed by Congress. While the specific case that makes me write today is the President's National Security Agency program, it is the President's belief he can disregard the actions of the other two branches that deserves censure. From the President's weekly radio address of Dec. 17, 2005, and from the letter that Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella sent to Congress on Dec. 22, 2005, it seems clear that the President understands the National Security Agency program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but felt he had reason to set them aside. I believe this to be a claim to be without precedent. While some have claimed that Presidents Carter and Clinton authorized warrantless searches and/or surveillance, in neither case was the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act violated. President Carter's actions took place before Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act took effect in 1978 and since President Clinton's actions were against foreign nationals, they met the letter of the law. Neither President explicitly stated he was setting aside an Act of Congress. Not only is this claim of authority to set aside explicit Acts of Congress unique, it is extremely dangerous to the future of this country. Even assuming that this president is acting out of good faith, there is no guarantee that future presidents will. If America accedes to this stunning claim of "above the law" Presidential power, the grounds will be laid for a future dictatorship - for what actions could a President take that couldn't somehow be justified by his or her "inherent authority" as Commander-in-Chief? Almost any area of life can be construed as related to the defense of our country. I hope you will agree with me that this isn't a partisan issue. Nor is it an issue about surveillance, as we have laws in place to wiretap potential terrorists. It is a basic issue of whether our country is to be a nation of laws or of men. Please reject one-man rule and write our Congressional delegation to support a bipartisan resolution of censure.
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