Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dick Cheney's Contempt for the U.S. Constitution Offends ME

Dick Cheney is offended by the free press doing its job:

Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and "absolutely essential" to fighting terrorism.

"What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago. "That offends me."

I am offended by Dick Cheney pushing through one secret spy program after another by presidential fiat, with no judicial or congressional oversight whatsoever. The fact that Dick Cheney thinks it's just fine to ignore financial privacy law and to arrogate to itself powers reserved by the U.S. Constitution for the other two branches of government is deeply offensive to me as an American.

The only check that is left on the Bush Imperial Presidency now is the press. Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times should be applauded for taking seriously their duty to inform the public about infringements on Americans' freedom by our own government, not smeared as "traitors."

Steven Taylor at Poliblog thinks that if the Bush administration took its legal oversight obligations seriously, it would not be necessary for journalists to write about said administration's failure to do so:

... I am hardly upset with the media for releasing the information, because it seems quite obvious that the administration will not submit to adequate oversight without this kind of public attention. The way we (and seemingly the Congress as well) have found about about the NSA wiretap program, the NSA phone records program and now this program has been through media revelations.

Sen. Arlen Specter made the same point in the Lichtblau and Risen piece published Thursday:

Mr. Specter has been at odds with the administration over another previously secret counterterrorism operation, the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program. The senator said he was particularly troubled that the administration had expanded its Congressional briefings on the financial tracking program in recent weeks after having learned that The New York Times was making inquiries.

"Why does it take a newspaper investigation to get them to comply with the law?" the senator asked. "That's a big, important point."

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