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"Legal authority"

Bush Philosophy: It's legal because my lawyer said it was.

President Bush had this to say last month about the warrantless eavesdropping program:
I said, is it legal? I'm asking this to the Attorney General of the United States, the Legal Counsel in the White House; NSA has got lawyers. I mean, a lot of lawyers looked at this, and they said, you bet, Mr. President, it's legal.

The crux of their argument has been that President Bush has inherent authority, derived from the Constitution, to authorize actions necessary to protect Americans (even if those actions are in contravention of established laws such as FISA). But there are so many things wrong with this argument, not the least of which is that it is basically saying Bush has the authority to break the law.

Another thing is that all of the people who Bush cited as saying 'you bet, Mr. President, it's legal' are answerable to him. We all know that Bush likes to surround himself with 'yes' men. Do we honestly think they will tell him 'no sir, you can't do that'? Even if one or two did, don't you think Bush would just find someone else to give him the answer he wants to hear?

The Bush administration has been using a lot of legalese to give their illegal actions an aire of legality. But as Geogria10 pointed out the other day, their arguments have a slightly after-the-fact quality to them.

This is how this administration operates. Bush relies on how his lawyers interpret his authority. They seem to think that if they get a few lawyers in the Justice Department to sign off that a particular program is legal, the administration can claim they have legal authority to do it. They have done this with regards to torture, indefinite detention, the NSA spying, and perhaps even warrantless physical searches.

All that Bush has done is pulled the Nixon defense out of mothballs and polished it up at bit. And now it comes complete with all new Super Lawyer action figure with action phrases like "You bet, Mr. President, it's legal".

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