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Bruce Fein: The Constitution is our birth certificate

Keith Olbermann continues to doggedly pursue the lawlessness of the Bush administration on his show. Countdown is generally a great show, and I hope i's nightly viewer ship will grow well past a million (currently an average of 750,000).

Last night, he had Bruce Fein on the show to comment on the FISA bill introduced yesterday. Even though it's a step forward from the bill the Democrats rolled over for this past summer, it's full of flaws, and according to Fein, will do little to reign in the madness of King George. From the show [Ed - emphasis added is mine]:

Well, the main untold story is that the President continues to claim he has inherent constitutional power to flout any law that congress enacts, even one that he proposes. And that means he's claiming the power not only to intercept our emails and conversations, but to break and enter homes, open mail, even commit torture in the name of gathering foreign intelligence.

And this is a claim that Congress has declined to repudiate. Not only in the old statute, but in the new statute that's proposed. So it really does nothing with regard to trying to restrain the president's unfettered exercise of authority to gather foreign intelligence. Moreover, it doesn't seek to confine the new statute to gathering intelligence related to fighting international terrorism, which was its initial justification. Foreign intelligence under the law includes everything from discovering what the negotiating position of the French are in having movies enter the French domestic market, to rain forests in Brazil, to the incidents of AIDS in South Africa. And this bill has not confined the new powers to gathering intelligence against international terrorism.

Lastly, the bill represents an entire capitulation to the administration's claim that no longer does the Fourth Amendment requirement that you have an individualized suspicion that an American is engaged in some kind of terrorism or acting as a foreign agent before a warrant is issued in order to obtain foreign intelligence that there's sort of a blanket warrant - exactly the kind of warrants King George used against American colonists that provoked the Declaration of Independence.

Fein is a brilliant constitutional scholar, and he's no liberal, having worked in the Reagan White House. He is no partisan hack - just a man fundamentally concerned about this administration's lawlessness and the precedent it is setting. Another great Fein quote from the show follows the jump:

The administration continues to claim absolute secrecy over all these threats that allegedly require the statute. And Congress now for over 6 years has permitted the president simply to state, as a fact, any description he has of the danger. It's not Ronald Reagan's trust but verify. It's just "If you say it, Mr. President, we'll believe it." And Congress has certainly strong authority to obtain that information if it would simply stop being invertebrate and stand up and discharge its constitutional responsibility of oversight.

I wish Pelosi, Conyers, and others who could drive impeachment forward were listening to people like Fein...

Anyway, the above commentary all relates to the RESTORE act introduced by John Conyers yesterday. I encourage you to call your House Rep and ask him/her to 1) support the bill; and 2) push for strengthening the bill along the lines Fein discusses. Watch the video - Laws with Flaws.

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