Last night on MSNBC’s Coundown, George Washington law professor Jonathan Turley noted that just this week, a federal judge rejected President Bush’s claim that his “constitutional authority as commander in chief trumped” the FISA wiretapping law. Judge Vaughn Walker explicitly stated that the President is bound by FISA:
Congress appears clearly to have intended to — and did — establish the exclusive means for foreign intelligence activities to be conducted. Whatever power the executive may otherwise have had in this regard, FISA limits the power of the executive branch to conduct such activities and it limits the executive branch’s authority to assert the state secrets privilege in response to challenges to the legality of its foreign intelligence surveillance activities.
In other words, when Bush contravened the FISA law by authorizing warrantless wiretaps through the National Security Agency, he broke the law. Turley said last night that this is an “inconvenient fact” for many in Congress to admit:
Nobody wants to have a confrontation over the fact that the President committed a felony – not one, but at least 30 times. That’s a very inconvenient fact right now in Washington.
Bush has acknowledged that he reauthorized his illegal wiretapping program “more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks.”