Huffpost Politics

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Brent Budowsky Headshot

Congress Caves, Bloggers Absent, Constitution Loses

Posted: Updated:

All Democratic candidates for President should announce today that their
will enforce the laws and fully prosecute any
criminal offenses that might be committed
today under the protection of the most corrupt
Attorney General in the history of the nation.

The last 72 hours was a devastating time for
the American constitution and neither our
Democratic Leaders nor the blogging world
at the Kos convention waged the fight that
the occasion demanded.

The Congressional capitulation to a radical
expansion of unilateral presidential powers
over warrantless eavesdropping is one of
the darkest hours in the history of the rule
of law.

In this capitulation, which does not even bear
the pretense of a compromise and was in fact
a total surrender to the most extreme vision
of unitary presidential power, it is the most
incompetent and dishonest Attorney General
in history who determines what is legal and
what is "reasonable."

It is known that former Attorney General
Ashcroft, former Deputy Attorney General
Comey, and current FBI Director Mueller
all felt that what the president wanted to
do was such a threat to the Republic that
they all threatened to resign en masse.

We do not know exactly why; and we must
know. It also seems likely the General Mike
Hayden, then head of the NSA, might also
have objected. This too, we must find out
for certain. Moreover, it appears that fight
beside John Ashcroft's hospital bed was
over actions and policies the high level
dissenters did not want continued.

Does this mean some actions they objected
to had already been taken and, if so, does this
mean laws were broken before they stopped
it? This, too, we must know. Crimes should
never be classified.

Democrats should have canceled the August
recess and fought like patriots against this
outrage and the entire Daily Kos community
should have risen as one, and turned the
Chicago meeting into a war room mobilizing
national support to defeat this outrage.

Instead, Democrats in Washington surrendered
without a fight and Kos supporters in Chicago
were missing in action, without making a fight,
at the moment Congress acted.

What is needed is a great debate about how
long we will permit the politics of fear to justify
the surrender of our freedoms and what is
needed is a Democratic Party that takes this
case to the country once and for all.

When the Attorney General said there was
not major internal dissent against this policy
the Attorney General based on publicly known
facts was lying.

When the Attorney General said that there
were not violations of civil liberties under this
program the Attorney General based on
publicly known facts was lying.

When the President said in Buffalo in 2004
that nothing had changed and warrants were
still required the President based on publicly
known facts was lying.

When House Republican leader John Boehner
disclosed a previously secret FISA court
decision that declared a good part of the
eavesdropping illegal, either Boehner was
breaking the law by disclosing classified
information, or ALL such decisions should
now be made public.

Lets remember that FISA violations are crimes
punishable by prison. If indeed it is ultimately
determined that the law violated there are
hundreds of thousands to millions of criminal
violations, each punishable by imprisonment.

It is an outrage the President, Vice President
and Attorney General sought to legalize what
would otherwise be criminal.

It is an outrage the Democrats who control Congress lacked the steel to
make this fight.

It is a major, major disappointment that the Daily Kos convention did
not rise in outrage
and lead a last stand against this vile program and this last
Congressional submission to aggressive abuse of Presidential power and
failure to faithfully execute the laws of the land.

To repeat the point at the beginning of this
note, the statute of limitations for various
potential crimes will not have expired when
the next President assumes office.

Every Democratic presidential candidate
should publicly state, immediately, that the
next Administration will enforce these laws,
will faithfully execute the laws, and that any
perpetrators today would be wise to come
forward now.

The day is coming when they will not have George Bush, Dick Cheney and
Alberto Gonzales to provide protection for conduct
that should never again be allowed in America.

The day must come now, today, when never
again will a Democratic Congress capitulate
on first principle matters of American law
and principled conservatives will never again
tolerate such abuses of power and disrespect for law by their party, or
any party.