June 04, 2008
image: John McCain in Saint Albans, West Virginia (cc) Jason Means
I'm of mixed opinion when it comes to warrentless wiretapping. On the one hand, I like the idea of privacy. I think that privacy is what allows citizens to feel secure and free - free from discrimination, free to worship however they wish, etc., etc. The idea that telecoms would willingly assist the Bush Administration by spying on citizens sends chills down my spine. But on the other hand, I'm fully aware that the telecoms own the lines that we use to communicate. Internet service providers own the lines that we use to transmit our data. We are paying for a convenience - we're not paying for security. The notion of privacy is illusory in the first place; we blindly and ignorantly trust corporations to take our personal information from one location to the next.
That said, I'm not crazy about having a president claiming that his own wartime powers trump the law and court oversight. According to McCain's camp, McCain's view on telecom immunity and warrentless wiretapping is identical to Bush's. Tragic. The conversative ideal of a limited and small government (which I appreciate) continues to erode away as we dig deeper and deeper into a state of perpetual war, which creates "justification" for unchecked presidential power.
And this is all peculiar, because McCain previously stated that the president (referring to Bush) is obligated to obey and enforce laws passed by Congress in any situation.
From the Wired article:
McCain's new position plainly contradicts statements he made in a December 20, 2007 interview with the Boston Globe where he implicitly criticized Bush's five-year secret end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
"I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is," McCain said.
The Globe's Charlie Savage pushed further, asking, "So is that a no, in other words, federal statute trumps inherent power in that case, warrantless surveillance?" To which McCain answered, "I don't think the president has the right to disobey any law."
It sure was convenient for McCain to criticize Bush's overstepping of the law prior to his own nomination by the Republican party. But now that he's closer to becoming president, I guess it sure would be handy to be able to disobey laws when it seems fit.