ITWASSOOTED: Specter: If Bush Broke The Law With Warrantless Spying, Impeachment Is A Remedy

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Specter: If Bush Broke The Law With Warrantless Spying, Impeachment Is A Remedy

Today on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) — who plans to hold hearings on Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program — upped the ante. He said that if it is determined that Bush broke the law, both impeachment and criminal prosecution are legitimate remedies:

STEPHANOPOULOS: There was a lot of talk about that at the Alito hearings, and listening closely to you I certainly seem to take away that you believe the president does not have the right, does not have the inherent power under the Constitution to circumvent a constitutional law, and as far as you are concerned, the FISA law is constitutional, isn’t it?

SPECTER: Well, I started off by saying that he didn’t have the authority under the resolution authorizing the use of force. The president has to follow the Constitution. Where you have a law which is constitutional, like Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, there still may be collateral different powers in the president under wartime circumstances.

That’s a very knotty question that I’m not prepared to answer on a Sunday soundbite. But I do believe that it ought to be thoroughly examined. And when we were on the Patriot Act and found the disclosure of the surveillance, I immediately said the Judiciary Committee would hold hearings, and I talked to the attorney general, and we’re going to explore it in depth, George. You can count on that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, if the president did break the law or circumvent the law, what’s the remedy?

SPECTER: Well, the remedy could be a variety of things. A president — and I’m not suggesting remotely that there’s any basis, but you’re asking, really, theory, what’s the remedy? Impeachment is a remedy. After impeachment, you could have a criminal prosecution, but the principal remedy, George, under our society is to pay a political price.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service concluded “that the administration’s justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.”
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