Monday, December 19, 2005

Feingold and Graham


Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis) responded to Gonzales' comments in an NBC interview this morning. "This is just an outrageous power grab," he said. "Nobody, nobody, thought when we passed a resolution to invade Afghanistan and to fight the war on terror, including myself who voted for it, thought that this was an authorization to allow a wiretapping against the law of the United States. "There's two ways you can do this kind of wiretapping under our law. One is through the criminal code, Title III; the other is through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That's it. That's the only way you can do it. You can't make up a law and deriving it from the Afghanistan resolution. "The president has, I think, made up a law that we never passed," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.)

My interpretation of the law would be yes, that he did not have the legal authority to do this under the Afghanistan war resolution or under the general powers as commander-in-chief. The Congress in 1978 — and there’s been no effort to modify it in any significant way since that time — understood that circumstances might change, but it did not provide for any circumstance in which the president alone, without consulting any other legal authority, judicial authority, could waive the rights of U.S. citizens to be free from having their phones wiretapped.