The President's Last Stand

No lame duck, Bush has big plans to push through an imperial legacy before he leaves

He was giving his farewell address at the National Press Club, and he ended by fervently addressing his colleagues in Congress: "How do you use these tools we have given you to make us safe in such a manner that will preserve our freedom? . . . Freedom is no policy for the timid. And my plaintive plea to all my colleagues that remain in this government as I leave it is, for our sake, for my sake, for heaven's sake, don't give up on freedom!"

This latter-day Minuteman was the very conservative House majority leader, Dick Armey. The same Dick Armey who, while still in office, defied George W. Bush and John Ashcroft by tearing out a provision of the "Freedom and Security" section of the administration's Homeland Security Bill, a plan ("Operation Tips") that would have given millions of Americans the authority to formally report, via a toll-free number, "suspicious" or "unusual" activity (otherwise undefined) that struck them as terrorist-related.

Roared Representative Armey as he killed that section, at least for a time: "Citizens will not be informants!" At the same time, Democratic congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were both conspicuously silent on "Operation Tips."

In the current Democrat-controlled Congress, what will the leadership do regarding the FBI's STAR program and the surveillance of American citizens from on high by spy satellites? I know I can count on senators Pat Leahy and Ron Wyden—but how many other Democrats, fearful of being tarred as soft on terrorism by our commander-in-chief, will once more refuse to take a stand?

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