Democrats taught Bush how to violate civil liberties

By now you’ve probably heard of the recent New York Times article detailing that the National Security Agency—courtesy of the great Satan that is George W. Bush—may be listening in on your telephone calls without a warrant in its quest to track down suspected terrorists.

Of course, if you’re a Bush-hater, this is just one more mark for the “Why I hate Bush” column. Yet while myopic, civil liberties Chicken Littles rush around in a veritable panic, and vote-seeking Democrats denounce the president, let’s recall a few things.

First, the president has briefed the congressional leadership on the NSA’s actions under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (or FISA, where the president asserts his authority for these actions) at least 30 times since 2001. Second, congressional Democrats whine like children when they aren’t informed of such things, but then they leak information to the media—like the Times—when they are.

In either event, I’m quite certain that, unless you’re having it with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the NSA really isn’t too interested in all that phone sex you may be having.

While the Bush bashers piously unite, perhaps some history lessons are in order.

At the behest of then-President Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) during World War I, Congress passed the Sedition Act. Under this 1918 law, it became a crime to “print, speak, write or publish any words that heaped contempt or scorn upon government or used scurrilous or abusive language to damage the reputation of the government or to disparage its military uniforms.”

And the penalties for running afoul of this law? Up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine—per offense.

Among the 3,000 or so people prosecuted for shooting off their mouths during this time, was the five-time Socialist party presidential candidate Eugene Debs. He drew a 10-year prison term and ran his last candidacy from a prison cell.

Another man, Charles Schenck, got himself served up for handing out, near a military recruiting station, pamphlets that asserted the military draft was illegal. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction (Schenck v. U.S.).

Then there was this little example signed by the Democrat’s greatest hero, Franklin D. Roosevelt. On Feb. 19, 1942, FDR signed Executive Order No. 9066.

As a result, over 120,000 people of Japanese Ancestry were removed from their homes and then relocated to internment camps for many years. Oh yes, the Supreme Court said this was just fine, too (Korematsu v. U.S.).

Yeah, but that’s ancient history, you say.

OK, how about this? Here was President Jimmy Carter (another Democrat) on FISA through his Executive Order 12139 issued on May 23, 1979, which said in part: “1-101. Pursuant to Section 102(a)(1) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1802(a)), the Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order.

And here was Democratic President Bill Clinton on FISA in his Executive Order 12949 issued on Feb. 9, 1995: “Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order.”

You will note that no mention was made in either instance by self-righteous civil liberties activists, like-minded Democrats or the almighty New York Times.

But God forbid a Republican president should actually exercise the same rights claimed by two previous Democrat presidents without getting excoriated for it. That would, after all, be hypocritical, wouldn’t it?