Thunder on the right – again: I happened to catch former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) duking it out with current Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) on CNN yesterday over news that President Bush has been spying on U.S. citizens, which Barr said has been done “apparently in violation of federal laws.”
— Bob Barr
The president’s poll numbers are just now starting to inch up as conservatives who lost faith with him over Iraq and Katrina – and because he nominated his secretary to the Supreme Court – are starting to “come home.”
The last thing the White House needs now is another big internecine row. And they cannot want a fight with a pit bull like Barr – who as a Congressman filed charges against President Clinton long before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. ( During the actual impeachment, he was one of the House Managers who tried the case against the president. )
Thrice divorced, Barr drafted the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 which bans federal recognition of same sex marriages. A strong opponent of abortion, his second wife says that Barr footed the bill when she terminated a pregnancy. A vocal advocate of “family values,” he was once photographed licking whipped cream off a woman’s naked chest.
All this hypocritical extremity aside, Barr is a strident conservative well to the right of the Big Government neocons who are running the government. So it is significant that he has come out so strongly against the charges of domestic spying – which, if proven to be illegal, are impeachable:
[WOLF] BLIZTER: Congressman Barr, what’s wrong with what the president has decided to do?
BOB BARR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What’s wrong with it is several-fold. One, it’s bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.
So it’s bad all around, and we need to get to the bottom of this….“Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it’s okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.”
— Bob Barr
[ROHRABACHER:] …I’m very happy that we have a president that, six months after they slaughtered 3,000 of our citizens, he decided to follow up on a lead that was given to our people by breaking up an al Qaeda cell in Pakistan, and followed through on that to make sure that there wasn’t another imminent attack, and thus probably saving many thousands of American lives. We can be proud of President Bush for protecting us…
BARR: Well, the fact of the matter is that the Constitution is the Constitution, and I took an oath to abide by it. My good friend, my former colleague, Dana Rohrabacher, did and the president did. And I don’t really care very much whether or not it can be justified based on some hypothetical. The fact of the matter is that, if you have any government official who deliberately orders that federal law be violated despite the best of motives, that certainly ought to be of concern to us…
BARR: Well, gee, I guess then the president should be able to ignore whatever provision in the Constitution as long as there’s something after the fact that justifies it.
[ROHRABACHER:] Bob, during wartime, you give some powers to the presidency you wouldn’t give in peace time.
BARR: Do we have a declaration of war, Dana?
ROHRABACHER: You don’t have to do that.
BARR: We don’t? That makes it even much easier for a president.
Rohrabacher bloviates ad nauseum, cramming as many references to 9/11 as he can into each sentence. Then:
BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it’s okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.
The fact of the matter is the law prohibits — specifically prohibits — what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn’t matter, I’m proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.