Bush cultists dust off the old, "So did Clinton!"

Drudge and the right-wing blogs are wheeling out their latest ridiculous, weak, and pathetic attempt to dispell the very real fact that Bush is behaving like a dictator.

Their argument according to Drudge:

Bill Clinton Signed Executive Order that allowed Attorney General to do searches without court approval

Clinton, February 9, 1995: “The Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order”

Jimmy Carter Signed Executive Order on May 23, 1979: “Attorney General is authorized to approve electronic surveillance to acquire foreign intelligence information without a court order.”

WASH POST, July 15, 1994: Extend not only to searches of the homes of U.S. citizens but also — in the delicate words of a Justice Department official — to “places where you wouldn’t find or would be unlikely to find information involving a U.S. citizen… would allow the government to use classified electronic surveillance techniques, such as infrared sensors to observe people inside their homes, without a court order.”

Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick, the Clinton administration believes the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.”

Secret searches and wiretaps of Aldrich Ames’s office and home in June and October 1993, both without a federal warrant.

Never mind that neither of them are president now — and neither had a track record of imperial hubris. Think Progress brings us this refutation:

The right-wing outlet NewsMax sums up the basic argument:

During the 1990’s under President Clinton, the National Security Agency monitored millions of private phone calls placed by U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries under a super secret program code-named Echelon…all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.

That’s flatly false. The Clinton administration program, code-named Echelon, complied with FISA. Before any conversations of U.S. persons were targeted, a FISA warrant was obtained. CIA director George Tenet testified to this before Congress on 4/12/00:

I’m here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency…

There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, the position of the Bush administration is that they can bypass the FISA court and every other court, even when they are monitoring the communications of U.S. persons. It is the difference between following the law and breaking it.

Bush apologists astound me. They’re a cult. Hell, when Bill Clinton perjured himself over a blow job — he broke the law. Why can’t the Bushies admit that their cult leader has done something a billion times more heinous and unconstitutional?

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