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Checks & Imbalances

Thursday, Jun. 29, 2006 2:24 AM

Condi Rice praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai by saying, "I don't know anyone who is more admired or respected by the international community."

Would that reckoning include President Bush?

Rice's trip � her third ��was spent safely behind the walls of the U.S. Embassy and the presidential compound, and lasted four hours.

But Condi needs a refresher on her history. She said the U.S. had made the mistake of ignoring Afghanistan after the 1989 withdrawal of Soviet forces, which gave rise to the Taliban, But the mujahadeen, which both Presidents Carter and Reagan helped fund, became the Taliban � it was not our neglect, but our support that created our present-day enemy (along with an assist from our buddies in Pakistan).

"We are not going to tire, we are not going to leave," Rice insisted.

So, instead, we're going to hold Karzai's hand for the rest of his life? Inflate our budgetary woes to support Afghanistan, Iraq, and wherever else our little adventure takes us?

The Democrats' fractured strategy, if you can even dignify it as such, is making a great stepping stone for President Bush and the Republicans as they continue to paint the Democrackpots as cowards and lacking the will to see the fight through to the end.

Listen. Do you hear it? The stirring sound of Democrats marching in unison with a single, coherent message and plan?

I didn't think so.

And the media is losing the battle as well. Bush continues to excoriate the press for revealing secret intelligence programs, and the press is sitting there taking it in the shorts as Dr. Rovenstein's Mind-Control Ray persuades the public that the issue is national security, instead of President Bush breaking the law.

But someone better start paying attention, and fast.

Rep. Michael Oxley (R - Ohio) is sponsoring legislation that , "... expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt, and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs such as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program."

Sounds reasonable, right? It's just asking the media not to publish leaked material of a classified nature, right?

Wrong. Read it again.

First, it contains the rhetorical slider, "... protecting the lives of Americans," which is a nice, patriotic sentiment � but it is immediately linked to, "... the capability of the government to identify, disrupt, and capture terrorists."

That would essentially affirm President Bush's imaginary constitutional powers, but also muzzle the press when it comes to legitimate concerns over the violation of federal statutes (FISA, USA-PATRIOT) and Constitutional rights (4th Amendment).

A free press sustains our democracy. A media constrained to sign off on presidential flimflammery is no longer free, and we lose yet another of the checks and balances against an unprincipled executive.

Congressman Oxley seems to have forgotten about blogs, or people like Matt Drudge. If there are people within the administration who are so concerned about the legality of its actions as to leak sensitive information, that process will continue � only the recipients will be bloggers and foreign press. Time and energy will continue to be spent on ferreting out leakers and blaming the press, instead of focusing on the core issues of a president who has repeatedly broken the law (and continues to do so).

Like a majority of Congress and the Senate, Oxley isn't concerned with oversight. He's simply covering George W. Bush's star-spangled britches.

I've said before that hunting the Big Bad Wolf is well and good, but a straw house is a straw house. Not only are we living in a straw house, we're dousing the walls with gasoline and are playing with matches.

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