From the January 2006 Idaho Observer:

Did President Bush break the law?

Compiled from reports

While trying to boost support for continuation of the Patriot Act and rally the nation behind his increasingly unpopular "War on Terror" during a speech Dec. 16, 2005, President Bush admitted to spying on Americans. The admission has caused a serious backlash and dramatically broadened the scope of those calling for his impeachment.

"To save American lives we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks," Bush said during the Dec. 16 speech from the East Room of the White House.

Later, Bush stated in defense of his actions, "I swore to uphold the laws. Do I have the legal authority to do this? And the answer is, absolutely."

That the leader of the free world could claim the lawful authority to spy on anyone he (or his "advisors") chooses, places into serious question whether or not he was paying attention in grammar school when the three-branches of our government’s system of checks was being explained.

After President Bush admitted (and justified) making the executive decision to place Americans under surveillance without a judicial (court) order, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean stated it was an impeachable offense. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) then solicited the help of "scholars" to determine if Bush had publicly admitted to an impeachable offense.

CNN reported that, on Dec. 18, 2005, Sen. Boxer asked "four presidential scholars for their opinion on former White House Counsel John Dean’s statement that President Bush admitted to an ‘impeachable offense’ when he said he authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge."

In her letter, Boxer said, "I take very seriously Mr. Dean’s comments, as I view him to be an expert on Presidential abuse of power. I am expecting a full airing of this matter by the Senate in the very near future." "On December 16, along with the rest of America, I learned that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without getting a warrant from a judge. President Bush underscored his support for this action in his press conference today," Sen. Boxer said.

"On Sunday, December 18, former White House Counsel John Dean and I participated in a public discussion that covered many issues, including this surveillance. Mr. Dean, who was President Nixon’s counsel at the time of Watergate, said that President Bush is "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense."

The Associated Press reported Dec. 20 that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) stated that President Bush did, in fact, break the law in authorizing spying on Americans. Lewis said he would sign a bill of impeachment if one was drawn up and that the House of Representatives should consider such a move. "It’s a very serious charge, but he violated the law. The president should abide by the law. He deliberately, systematically violated the law. He is not King, he is president" Lewis said.

Lewis is among several Democrats who have voiced discontent with Sunday night’s television speech, where Bush asked Americans to continue to support the Iraq War. Lewis is the first major House figure to suggest impeaching Bush.

Rep. John Conyers is sponsoring bills calling for Congress to "censure" the president for lying to lawmakers about going to war in Iraq and to form a panel to investigate the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq.

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