Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Focus: Censure

Protect rule of law

President Bush should be censured.

This isn’t about terrorism; it’s about accountability.

He had authority to wiretap suspected terrorists and get a warrant days later. But he went around the court set up to prevent abuses and protect innocent Americans – a court that approves virtually all wiretapping requests it receives.

Censure is a reasonable step to holding Bush accountable. Even Republicans acknowledge that he broke the law. Now they’re discussing plans to retroactively make his program legal.

If Congress doesn’t support the censure, lawmakers are saying it’s OK for any president to break the law.

Congress should stand with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., to protect the rule of law. Feingold is standing up to the administration’s attack on our Constitution, and he shouldn’t fight alone.


Feingold’s brave act

Before you judge Feingold too harshly, remember it takes more courage to take an unpopular stand than no stand at all, and a motion to censure is very different from an article of impeachment.

Both would hold the president accountable, but a censure would send a clear message about abuses of power with a minimum of disruption to daily activities.

It is the polite solution to an egregious breach of the public trust.

This has nothing to do with the misnamed “war on terrorism.” The issue is whether Congress, and America, can tolerate a president who breaks a law because he finds it inconvenient.

That the president and his supporters have invoked the cloak of national security in defense of this violation is irrelevant and offensive.

Feingold’s motion to censure is an act of courage and trust: courage to stand up to those who would rule by fear, and trust in those millions who refuse to be cowed, to give up, to surrender to the fear mongering and hate speech that has become the center of public discourse.

It’s time to stand up and support those who would defend real freedom, rather than those who mouth its platitudes.


Show of disapproval

The censure would be a reasonable way for Congress to show its disapproval.

In response, Republicans criticized Feingold as being uninterested in national security.

In truth, Bush’s actions violate a 1978 law that requires court-issued warrants for domestic wiretapping. Seeking warrants does not jeopardize national security, since warrants can be sought three days after eavesdropping begins.

Feingold, like myself and many others, merely wants the president held accountable. If he is allowed to break the law without consequences, it will further empower the executive branch.

As our system of checks and balances deteriorates, so will the country. Congress must show that no one is above the law in this land.


An abuse of power

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Feingold’s call for a censure is the least extraordinary measure sought for unabrogated abuse of presidential power.

It was only a step from secret prisons and secret renditions abroad to secret wire-tapping of America’s citizenry at home.

If the excuse is national security, it is a fallacious one. We are in greater danger from unauthorized wire-tapping than from any enemy missile.

At stake is not a building, a town, a state, but a nation – a nation of laws, the only idea worth fighting for at home, as it encompasses the foundation of our national security.

As an American, I call upon our elected officials and people to stand behind the censure.


Green Valley

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