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Coincidence or political maneuvering?

September 22, 2006

Is it a mere coincidence that gas prices are falling in the lead up to the November mid-term elections or is it political maneuvering?

Is it a coincidence or an attempt to pacify the public with some cheap gas so people won't pay attention to a proposal that would make public officials who violate the Constitution and federal laws by spying on citizens immune from prosecution?

Beyond immunity, however, is a further and more troubling provision in the proposed legislation. The bill justifies everything the president did and makes it legal to wiretap Americans, in secret, without warrants or oversight, whenever the administration wants to do so.

U.S. courts have already determined that President Bush broke the law with his illegal wiretapping program. Trying to sneak legislation through days before Congress adjourns is made easier when the public is less irate over things like gas prices.

The president's program to wiretap Americans who have nothing to do with terrorism violates the law. President Bush already has the authority to wiretap suspected terrorists. Anyone can be tapped with the okay from a federal court - which can be obtained in a couple of days.

Our elected officials should be upholding the Constitution rather than undermining it. This proposed legislation, which comes from Vice President Cheney and Senator Arlan Spector, R-PA, allows President Bush and subsequent presidents to wiretap citizens secretly, indefinitely without warrants and without oversight.

The legislation prevents any legal challenges from taking place in the public court system. Instead, it moves all cases to a secret court, where only Bush administration officials can argue it.

Since the warrantless wiretapping proposal was exposed last December, various organizations have demonstrated that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the program, Vice President Cheney also personally intervened to stop telecom companies from testifying to Congress about it, and a federal court recently ruled the program unconstitutional.

Sure, gas prices are coming down, but that doesn't mean it's safe to stop watching these guys like a hawk.

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The Valley Reporter - serving Vermont's Mad River Valley since 1971