At the risk of channeling my old blog, Perry Metzger hits it out of the park:
The FISC may be worthless at defending civil liberties, but in its
arrogant disregard for even the fig leaf of the FISC, the
administration has actually crossed the line into a crystal clear
felony. The government could have legally conducted such wiretaps
at any time, but the President chose not to do it legally.
Ours is a government of laws, not of men. That means if the President
disagrees with a law or feels that it is insufficient, he still must
obey it. Ignoring the law is illegal, even for the President. The
President may ask Congress to change the law, but meanwhile he must
Our President has chosen to declare himself above the law, a dangerous
precedent that could do great harm to our country. However, without
substantial effort on the part of you, and I mean you, every person
reading this, nothing much is going to happen. The rule of law will
continue to decay in our country. Future Presidents will claim even
greater extralegal authority, and our nation will fall into
despotism. I mean that sincerely. For the sake of yourself, your
children and your children’s children, you cannot allow this to stand.
Of course, you might be tempted to think that Perry is shrill and unbalanced, and that he’s got a bee up his ass about cryptography and privacy, and that really, they had to destroy and ignore the constitution in order to preserve, protect, and defend it. You might be tempted to defend this action as being necessary to prosecute the war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on pornography, or anything, really. You might be tempted to say that the innocent have nothing to hide, and if you’re feeling uneasy about being spied on, maybe the government should be looking at you. You might be tempted to brush this off, because the prospect of dying in a terrorist attack scares you more than the thought of the National Security Agency listening to your phone call. Anything goes, right?
Does it? Does it really? How far is “anything”? We’ve got arbitrary detention, officially-sanctioned torture, and spying. We’ve got summary conviction on secret evidence, and surveillance without your knowledge. Hundreds of thousands of names are on lists, but no one knows what the lists or for, or how they got on the list, or whether they’re on one at all. To paraphrase
Fuck that shit.
Perry’s right: Americans need to wake the fuck up to what’s going on here. They need to grow a pair, stop being afraid because Dick Cheney comes out from time to time to go “booga booga!” in an attempt to scare the nation, start demanding some accountability, and run these assholes out of town on a rail. I’m not sure what I’m more upset about: The fact that this desperately needs to happen, or the fact that it probably won’t happen.
This is a scandal, to be sure, but it’s not an impeachable scandal. It’s not like anyone had sex with an intern here.