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Permission Slip

Friday, Sept. 08, 2006 11:59 AM

Having authorized a surveillance program that actively violated federal law and admitted to secret prisons abroad, President Bush is desperately trying to sell Congress and the public another heaping load of bullshit by asking for 'additional authority' to continue the program.

Given that Bush ignored the law to begin with, selectively briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee, and has repeatedly asserted that his actions are supported by the Constitution and the Authorization to Use Military Force, clearly, he's not concerned about the legality of the program.

But it sure would be nice if Congress passed a law that made his illegal actions legal.

And it would also be colossally stupid on their part.

Consider the true meaning of the request. Not only would it give President Bush a free pass on violating the law, it implies that the much-vaunted surveillance program doesn't work. If the net isn't catching any fish, the obvious solution is to use a bigger net, right? (It also means the USA-PATRIOT Act is a fucking boondoggle, because that was supposed to provide all these nifty tools to fight terrorism.)

It only underscores the importance of an opinion I've expressed repeatedly on these pages, that we simply cannot pin the nation's defense on the chance that we catch the magic phone call. Our defenses need to be in place whether or not we intercept a key communication.

President Bush is quick to point out that if someone in the United States is talking to al-Qaeda, we want to know what they're saying. Unfortunately, that reasoning is being used to support illegal activities. It's being used to violate constitutional protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment.

That too, makes us less safe.

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