The dictator defense

Salon
by David Cole

02/10/06

The argument that the president's actions are consistent with the law turns on the theory that Congress authorized the unlimited warrantless wiretapping of Americans when it authorized the use of military force against al-Qaida in September 2001. Congress' authorization to use force, however, says not one word about the wiretapping of Americans, while another statute, titled 'Authorization During Time of War,' addresses the issue specifically. This statute dictates that the president may engage in warrantless wiretapping 'for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress.' The legislative history explains that if the president needs more extended authority, he should come to Congress during that 15-day period to request that the law be amended. If Congress was willing to grant the president only 15 days of warrantless wiretapping when it declared war, surely one cannot interpret a mere authorization to use military force -- which is far less severe than a declaration of war, and which is entirely silent on the subject of wiretapping -- to authorize unlimited warrantless wiretapping... [subscription or ad view required]

//www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2006/02/10/dictator/


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