Transit Talks, Bush Eavesdrops

We’re T+1 hour and still no call for a strike from the transit union leadership. From what I can gather, the union doesn’t really want more salary — they just want to be treated better by the middle management. The MTA doesn’t want to cut any benefits for current employees, just for future employees. NY1 reports that the MTA sweetened the final offer of 3% each year for the next three years to 3, 4, 3.5% for the next three years, and moved the retirement age to 60 from 62. There must be some clever negotiator that can come up with a place where they can agree?

The Bush administration is taking it on the chin with the domestic spying scandal by members of his own party. It’s hard to think that members of a party whose core belief is in smaller, non-intrusive government can go along with unlimited warrantless clandestine wiretaps. The legal reasoning behind the wiretaps, as described in the PBS Newshour, is basically the Constitution gives inherent authority to the President as commander-in-chief, and that Congress ratified that in the Afganistan resolution, and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is outdated and not responsive to modern needs. The opposing side is that the Fourth Amendment is still applicable in wartime, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, by its own terms (50 USC sec 1822) is the exclusive statutory authority for this type of search. The fact that one searching “under color of law for the purpose of obtaining foreign intelligence information, executes a physical search within the United States except as authorized by statute”, commits a felony (50 USC 1827) raises the stakes even more in this political battle.

Now that I have heard the Attorney General’s articulation of the legal reasoning, I don’t believe that it survives the “laugh test”. The ultimate judgment will be when Congress holds its hearings on the matter — I seem to recall in one commercial Con Law outline that the power of the President is strongest when Congress is acting in concert, and weakest when he is acting in opposition to Congress.

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