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Liberty On Sale

Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007 4:00 AM

Above and beyond Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell affirming that telecommunications companies including AT&T lent a helping hand to President Bush's illegal, warrantless wiretapping program, McConnell gave the Bush Administration's rationale for offering protection against litigation in the wake of the program's exposure.

"Now if you play out the suits at the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these companies," McConnell said.

So, wait � we're asked to keep supporting the war in Iraq, paying a price in blood and money that is staggering, to win freedom for the Iraqi people. But our own freedoms are, sadly, bought for the price of (listening in upon) a phone call.

What is the lesson we are teaching the Iraqis? That 'freedom' and 'democracy' are secondary to corporate interests, as well as such volatile commodities that they can be stolen from a docile public by a political appointee ... and you're supposed to bow down to their infinite wisdom, because it's for your own good.

Do you think people who lived and suffered under an actual, brutal dictatorship might see the innate hypocrisy of such words and realize we aren't living up to our billing?

Associated Press reports that the surge is working.

Well, sort of.

Since the surge, deaths from various attacks are up by almost 1,000 from the total from 2006. And we've got four months to go.

Violence in Baghdad is down, but only to the pre-surge levels of last November. So we're really only treading water.

But of course, the Pentagon is now warning of a potential spike in violence, citing the approaching anniversary of 9/11, the approach of General Petraeus' report to Congress, and the advent of Ramadan. Two of those happen every year and we're still trying to put spin on the numbers?

Oh, and General Petraeus' report may be made � conveniently ��on 9/11, the disgustingly-named Patriot Day.

But as President Bush will doubtless stand before a crowd of soldiers and a receptive, advance-ticketed audience that has been pre-screened for ideological purity, remember that our nation's infrastructure remains vulnerable. Remember that we still can't supply our soldiers with the tools they need to meet one of the primary threats to their safety.

Remember that the Bush Administration has lied about the war we are fighting, broken the law repeatedly, lied about doing so, and continues to hide behind 'national security' and 'executive privilege' to dodge accountability.

Remember that President Bush laughed about the plight of our troops as they face their fourth deployment. He laughed at them.

And he can't remember the facts about the death of Pat Tillman, despite heaping effusive praise upon the Army Ranger who'd been gunned down by the enemy friendly fire. (A note � if the worst is true, and Tillman's death is linked to either his political or religious views, we can strike 'friendly fire' and reinstate 'the enemy' ... it's just a different, and far more dangerous, enemy than we thought.)

But let's not spare the Democrats, either, particularly those who forgot the illegal part of the warrantless wiretaps and sold our Constitutional protections for a pat on the head. Or Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose foreign policy consists of reminding people we have nukes.

Let's remember instead that terrorism exists to provoke an unthinking reaction, whether engendering panic amongst the civilian populace or committing ourselves to military action with nothing but patriotic slogans and jingoistic tautology to support our efforts over the long run.

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