Chris's Rants

Monday, January 30, 2006

They let this guy wield a scalpel?

Frist: Gov't Unwanted in End-of-Life Cases (emphasis mine):
Asked on NBC's 'Meet the Press' if he had any regrets regarding the Schiavo case, Frist said: 'Well, I'll tell you what I learned from it, which is obvious. The American people don't want you involved in these decisions.'
Of course, it's obvious. The real question here is that given it was so obvious, why Dr. Frist took the position he did.

Any idiot who read the polls at the time of the Schiavo mess could have told you that just as Americans don't want the government in their bedroom, they don't want the government at their bedside when they are making difficult life and death decisions. Here's the ABC poll taken at the time:
March 21, 2005 -- Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is overstepping its bounds for political gain.
Dr. Frist was too blinded by his fealty to the American Taliban to see just how obvious it was.

Are we to now believe that Dr. Frist has seen the light? Yea, riiiiiight. No, now we all know just how craven this moron can be for political support. Here he is yesterday on Press the Meat obsequiously sucking up to the Bu$hCo administration so that he'll have their support when he runs for Preznit in 2008. Once again, he's backing a losing cause (emphasis mine):
MR. RUSSERT: Domestic surveillance. Here is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Section 1809, and very clear. “A person is guilty of an offence if he intentionally - engages in electronic surveillance...except as authorized by statute.” Has the president, in fact, engaged in electronic surveillance and not authorized it by statute?

MR. RUSSERT: No. The president has engaged in an activity in a highly classified program that I have been fully briefed on. I’m one of the eight people in our Congress briefed on this program. And the program itself is terrorist surveillance. It is international al-Qaeda-linked communication around the world. It might be to Baghdad, it might be to Berlin, it might be to London, or it might be to Nashville, Tennessee. But it’s coming from al-Qaeda-related surveillance. So the statute itself, at least my interpretation is and I believe this program is lawful, it is constitutional. I strongly support it. I know, I know it is vital to our security.
So, now Dr. Frist has a law degree and is a constitutional scholar? Once again, he's making a public diagnosis (that the administration's end-run around the 1978 FISA law is constitutional) that is contrary to what all the facts and scholarly opinion have to say on the matter. Russert pulls out the the independent CRS study that completely debunks the administration's claims that Dr. Frist blindly parrots for them.
MR. RUSSERT: But Senator, the Congressional Research Center Service, Library of Congress—and you know it well.

SEN. FRIST: Yeah, I know it well.

MR. RUSSERT: “A report by Congress’s research arm, concluded that the administration’s justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by the president conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments...The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as an authority in order to secretly monitoring of calls...The report also concluded that Bush’s assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.” What statute authorizes the president to do this?

SEN. FRIST: The answer is the Constitution of the United States of America in a time of a war our commander in chief, he is given through resolution, through statute passed by the United States Congress to use force, to use force that he, in the same way he can use force to kill, to wipe out terrorists, he can listen in on al-Qaeda conversations, wherever they are, anywhere in the world. Under the Constitution as commander in chief, at a time of war, and the statute is the Resolution of Force that we passed in the bipartisan way on the floor of the United States Senate.

MR. RUSSERT: But the Congressional Research Service says that statute does not apply. And let me show you something the president said on Thursday, because it certainly caught a lot of attention. And let me play it and get your reaction. Here we go.

(Video, January 25, 2006)

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I said, “Look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law?” And people said, “Well, it doesn’t work in order to be able to do the job we expect us to do.”

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: The suggested being that’s an old law and it doesn’t work, therefore we’re going to ignore it. Can you just ignore laws that are on the books?

SEN. FRIST: Tim, having been briefed on the program, you don’t ignore the law. The president says you don’t need the law, and it’s lawful under the Constitution of the United States of America and on the statute on the use of force that was passed. And the law of governing FISA itself says unless there is another statute. And the statute I would argue is the constitution gives him power as commander in chief, the specific statute being the use of force.

Now, all of this, as you pointed out through your quotations, can be debated, and it can be contentious. And I can tell you what my interpretation is, the interpretation of the administration’s lawyers, the interpretation of the lawyers for the NSA itself have all agreed with the president.
Whoa! Stop right there. Apparently, not all of the administration's lawyers agreed with the president. However, the first highlighted bits above warrant further scrutiny. Timmeh asks: "Can you just ignore laws that are on the books?" and Dr. Frist responds: "The president says you don’t need the law". Huh, so just because the president says so, that it is perfectly OKAY for him to ignore the law, that's good enough for Dr. Frist. Hokaaaayyyy. Move along, nothing to see here...
But what we are going to do as a co-equal branch of government, the legislative body, Chairman Specter, our judiciary committee, is going to look at this very issue with the attorney general, others coming over next week—or eight days from now. And that’s where we’ll have a public debate before the American people on this idea of legal, lawfulness, constitutionality of the sanction.
Of course, Dr. Frist has already made up his mind as to the outcome of those hearings, or rather, he has had his mind made up for him by Commander Codpiece himself, King George.

Constitution? We doan need no steenkin' Constitution.


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