February 15, 2006

The Nixon Law

"If the president does it, that means it's not illegal." So said Richard Nixon. Well, we have progressed quite a bit since those dark days. Now our mantra is "And if it is illegal, if it is violation of the law, then we'll just change the law so that it conforms with the president's conduct." I read in the Washington Post today that Republican Senators -- namely, Olympia Snowe, Mike DeWine, and Chuck Hagel -- have announced that they no longer support an inquiry into whether the Bush Administration has violated (and continues to violate) FISA. Instead of an investigation into whether there have been crimes committed by the Bush Administration, these Republican senators now call for FISA to be amended so that whatever the Bush Administration is doing, it will become legal. This is the so-called Nixon Law.

Well, why stop there? Why stop with FISA? Why limit the Nixon Law to wiretapping? According to the Bush Administration, political dissent gives "aid and comfort to the enemy." Isn't political dissent as worrisome as what people may say to one another in private? Why not just go ahead and make it explicit? Pass a law that says: The President can do whatever he chooses so long as he does it under the color of fighting terrorism. First Amendment? Bah! FISA? Ridiculous. Fourth Amendment, due process, right to counsel . . . Who needs them? They just interfere with the president's work. Richard Nixon would be so pleased.


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