John Edwards in Iowa

That a presidential candidate in the United States has to stand up and say that they will respect the Constitution and stand up for civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, respect the rule of law, and appoint judges who will do the same?  Welcome to George Bush’s America…

Emptywheel and Glenn have background on the new Goldsmith book.   Do read both articles, as they highlight some important background bits and pieces which really pull the Bush Administration’s penchant for disrespect of the mechanisms of government and the rule of law into sharp focus.  This from Glenn just sent me through the roof:

…it was Goldsmith who first argued that the administration’s secret, warrantless surveillance programs were illegal, and it was that conclusion which sparked the now famous refusal of Ashcroft/Comey in early 2004 to certify the program’s legality. Goldsmith argued continuously about his conclusion with Addington, and during the course of those arguments, this is what happened:

[Goldsmith] shared the White House’s concern that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act might prevent wiretaps on international calls involving terrorists. But Goldsmith deplored the way the White House tried to fix the problem, which was highly contemptuous of Congress and the courts. “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court,” Goldsmith recalls Addington telling him in February 2004.

Their goal all along was to “get rid of the obnoxious FISA court” entirely, so that they could freely eavesdrop on whomever they wanted with no warrants or oversight of any kind. And here is Dick Cheney’s top aide, drooling with anticipation at the prospect of another terrorist attack so that they could seize this power without challenge. Addington views the Next Terrorist Attack as the golden opportunity to seize yet more power. Sitting around the White House dreaming of all the great new powers they will have once the new terrorist attack occurs — as Addington was doing — is nothing short of deranged.

Contrary to the claims made by Bush and his followers ever since the NSA scandal arose, their real objective in secretly creating “The Terrorist Surveillance Program” was never to find a narrow means to circumvent FISA when, in those few cases, it impeded necessary eavesdropping. Rather, the goal was to get rid of FISA altogether and return the country to the days when our government could spy on us in total secrecy, with no oversight. Of course, until they could “get rid of” that law altogether — through the only tactic they know: exploitation of Terrorism — they simply decided to violate it at will….

They literally decided they would break whatever laws they wanted — one law after the next, in critical areas — based on patently baseless memos issued by obedient followers like John Yoo. Not only did they do this in complete secrecy from Congress, they refused even to allow Executive Branch officials who were told to follow orders to see the legal basis for what they were told to do.

To know that someone from the inside of this malignant cabal of disrespectful authoritarian jackasses can so blithely lay it out for everyone to see?  But only well after the damage has been long done?  Beyond infuriating.  We’ve known these people had no respect for the rule of law for some time now, but it continues to amaze me how disrespectful they are to each other…and to the rest of the nation.  And yet, the whole thing just keeps on lurching along, doesn’t it? 

I’m with emptywheel on this:  why release this Goldsmith information early?  Something is up.  (Do read the excerpt about Mrs. Ashcroft sticking out her tongue at Card and Gonzales.  Priceless.)

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com