President George W. Bush urged Congress on Wednesday to expand the government’s domestic spying powers permanently or risk leaving the country vulnerable to another terrorist attack.
The Democratic-led Congress in August temporarily expanded the Bush administration’s authority to monitor phone calls, e-mails and other electronic communications between individuals in the United States and someone overseas suspected of terrorism ties, without obtaining court approval.
"Without these tools it’ll be harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to train, recruit and infiltrate operatives into America," Bush said during a visit to the National Security Agency, which conducts surveillance of electronic communications on targets around the world.
"Without these tools, our country will be much more vulnerable to attack," Bush added.
That is probably true, especially given America’s lax attitude about closing its borders. But why does the president’s authority need to be made permanent now, only weeks after having been granted on a temporary basis?
One theory is that Bush and Cheney, with emphasis on the latter, have actively sought to expand the presidency’s power in ways that the Constitution never intended.
Whether that’s true or not I think this is one place to draw the line. There is no reason to make the Bush administration’s domestic espionage program permanent at this time.
Cross-posted at The Van Der Galiën Gazette.