His imperial president, George Bush, admits today in his weekly radio address to approving wiretaps without a court order.

“This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States,” Bush said.

At issue is whether eavesdropping without a warrant does in fact violate our civil liberties. Claiming that the program is used only to intercept international communications to those ‘known’ to have ties to al Qaeda, he vows to continue the practice. Bush also claims to have alerted unnamed lawmakers more than a dozen times as to this policy.

Our civil liberties are now subject to the vagueries and whims of a seriously flawed and incompetent intelligence gathering community. Or worse, to the perceptions of any government official who may have a grudge.

Russ Feingold had this to say –

Feingold said it was “absurd” that Bush said he relied on his inherent power as president to authorize the wiretaps.

“If that’s true, he doesn’t need the Patriot Act because he can just make it up as he goes along. I tell you, he’s President
George Bush, not King George Bush. This is not the system of government we have and that we fought for,” Feingold told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Violating civil liberties is yet another impeachable offense. Write your representative here

Update: Sen Russ Feingold of Wyoming said Saturday: “There’s not a single senator or member of Congress who thought we were authorizing wiretaps.” He went on to say “If he needs a wiretap, the authority is already there — the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act,” Feingold said. “They can ask for a warrant to do that and even if there’s an emergency situation they can go for 72 hours as long as they give notice at the end of 72 hours.” Bush authorized these wiretaps despite no specific law allowing it.

Update 2: Josh Marshall has this to say regarding Bush’s claim that the US is now less safe thanks to the press for revealing his eavesdropping –

If I’m understanding this correctly, this program allowed the president to conduct warrantless wiretaps in cases where he could have conducted the same wiretaps with warrants by seeking a warrant from the FISA Court. If the wiretaps were against the “international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations” then the FISA Court certainly would have issued the warrants.

So it’s the same difference.

and this

According to the original Times article and subsequent reports, the president’s authority to override statute law comes from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing the force to destroy al Qaida.

By that reasoning the president must also be empowered to override the new law banning the use of torture, thus making the McCain Amendment truly a meaningless piece of paper.