"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sole Organ 

You would think that someone, somewhere at the Department of Justice might be familiar with the Constitution, but apparently you would be wrong. From the New York Times:
The Bush administration today offered its fullest defense of the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying that congressional authorization to defeat Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks "places the president at the zenith of his powers in authorizing the N.S.A. activities."

In a 42-page white paper, the Justice Department expanded on its past arguments in laying out the legal rationale for why the N.S.A. program does not violate federal wiretap law and why the president is the nation's "sole organ" for foreign affairs.

Okay, first I'll pause for a moment so each of you may supply your own Bill Clinton/"sole organ" joke....

Now then. Let's look at the Constitution, and see what it has to say about Congress' role in foreign affairs. From Article I, sec. 8 (emphasis supplied):
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States...;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces...;

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Gee, that's a lot of influence over foreign affairs - certainly, more than I would expect if, indeed, the Framers had intended to make the Executive the "'sole organ' for foreign affairs."

And anyway, the issue here isn't foreign affairs - it's the unlawful surveillance of American citizens and resident aliens, while on American soil.

 

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