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Fear Is Not Sufficient Reason

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006 12:16 AM


"We've seen that part of the terrorists' strategy is to place operatives inside of our country," President Bush said as he concluded a visit to NSA Headquarters. "They blend in with the civilian population. They get their orders from overseas, and then they emerge to strike from within."

While I'll stop short of calling the threat imaginary, it certainly sounds like the kind of crap told 'round the campfire to spook little kids. An unfamiliar noise - something natural to the environment, and certainly nothing to fear - becomes the headless zombie of a long-dead ax murderer, searching for fresh victims.

"We must be able to quickly detect when someone linked to Al Qaeda is communicating with someone inside of America," Bush warns. "That's one of the challenges of protecting the American people, and it's one of the lessons of September 11."

Ah, yes. It's all about September 11. I suppose we should be thankful Mr. Bush has stopped insulting Americans by implying they'd forgotten about 9/11.

Note, however, the dose of revisionist history. The hijackers from 9/11 were fairly self-contained and did not rely on a go-mission phone call from Osama bin Laden. And the primary fault has been in the failure to 'connect the dots' - that is, correlate information we already had - not a failure to intercept key communications (as Mr. Bush implied in his comments). And let us not forget that the Bush Administration desperately sought to implicate Saddam Hussein in the attacks, continuing to imply a connection long after the 9/11 Commission's report specifically refuted that item.

Repeated, with amplification, is the ominous assertion that, had we had a warrantless wiretap program in effect prior to 9/11, that it would have netted some or all of the hijackers. (This has also been suggested by Vice President Cheney, and former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden.)

A program which is being justified by citing the President's powers in a time of war would have been implemented for what reasons, exactly?

A program, which despite Bush citing, 'multiple safeguards to protect civil liberties,' cannot be assessed by the public, because the program is secret. Open and reliable safeguards exist in FISA, yet the Bush Administration has been anything but forthcoming about the nature of these safeguards. And don't let the verbal disconnect of warrantless = protecting your civil liberties slip past unnoticed.

Nor are the continued circular arguments helping. Points of law are not being argued; presidential privilege and the scope of the Authorization of Force are. (Even Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to reframe the question as a being about presidential authority rather than law.)

Ignored is a vital line from Article II of the Constitution. that the President shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed. Not ignored when inconvenient. Not waived through a signing statement.


In his remarks, Mr. Bush made it clear he spoke by videophone to NSA employees who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. What was that about giving information away to the enemy?



The Ministry has received 1 comment(s) on this topic.



Brin - 2006-01-26 04:03:43
You know, the thing that astounds me about the entire surveillance melee is that the courts have been traditionally favorable for wiretapping requests from the govamint. There was really no reason on the face of this planet NOT to go through the court system.