To The CIA. And Gonzales, The Attorney General. Big
I wrote this opinion
the day before General Hayden was approved. Subsequent to said
approval, President Bush said, "I look forward to working with...Negraponte,
General Hayden...as we continue to address the challenges and threats we
face in the 21rst century." Challenges and threats which the
president increased by invading Iraq.
no votes to Hayden's approval were Democrats Ron Wyden, Russ Feingold and Even Bayh, and
Republican Arlen specter. My hat's off to these four who had the guts
to protest and not just go along.
9/11, V.P. Cheney wanted to intercept domestic telephone calls and
e-mails, without warrants, but was warned away by more cautious National
Security Agency lawyers, owing to the measure's illegality, and especially
since they were slammed in the 1990s for eavesdropping. But the
nominee for director of the CIA, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, then head of the NSA, ultimately created a
collection program and sold it to the wary NSA officers, and a not-so-wary
spokeswoman said the program "is terrorism surveillance, not domestic
surveillance," and the V.P. further explained it as "a wartime
measure...limited in scope." Limited? The serious
problem with the vice president's reasoning is, as described by Bush: this "war
on terrorism" is going to go on for many years.
The trouble is, terrorism will
remain with us for as long as our soldiers' boots are on the ground
anywhere in the Middle East. Which means a very long "wartime
measure." Decades? Decades of data collection?
dictatorship government, police may search and seize your property without
providing justifications or legal warrants. It follows that a
dictatorship having unwarranted access to collected data such as
telecommunications and e-mail, will not consider this an invasion of
privacy, but merely a way of closely monitoring its citizens, like it or
On the other hand, as intended by
our founding fathers, we supposedly live in a free society, able to express ourselves without fear of reprisals for
independent thinking, to speak openly in
opposition to our government, when necessary. Additionally, protected by the
4th Amendment, we
expect a right to privacy, to be able to communicate with others
With that said, it appears
that no matter the rationale--"security"
or otherwise--because of this administration's creative and of the
interpretations of our laws, the NSA's data collection
ultimately undermines our precious Bill Of Rights in which the meaning of amendment
four has been explicitly stated for any reasonably intelligent human being
to grasp , making it quite clear to me and
others, this secret agency under the guidance of General Hayden, is almost
certainly violating our rights with the approval of his boss, President
Bush, as surely as a burglar who breaks
and enters our homes. Assuming the General is approved, can we now
expect domestic spying from the CIA? It would not be the first time.
Early on at the NSA,
General Hayden said he wanted congressional
oversight. True, he said that.
One would then assume that he meant to make complete presentations to a
full intelligence committee, but he never did. Therefore, with this
in mind, Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Dem, accused the Bush gang of
violating the national Security Act of 1947 because a full oversight
committee was never briefed; which of course would be a way of keeping
illegal activities as secret as possible, certainly pleasing President
Continue here....Yes, our president
who has publicly complained numerous times about traitorous leaks of classified intelligence,
while he himself has declassified "secrets" on a moment's notice whenever
he has wanted to destroy an opponent and/or protect an ally.
So the wily Bush/Rove team,
mindful of the legitimate criticism regarding the lack of full oversight,
beat the Hayden confirmation hearing to the punch by giving the House and
Senate intel committees a
briefing on classified activities. Whew! Just in time.
us who believe we have nothing to fear from this kind of government
intrusion because we have nothing criminal or treasonous to hide, should
understand fully that the passive acceptance of a Big Brother system will create a chink in our personal
liberty, into which an oppressive wedge will most assuredly be inserted.
arrogant government facing little opposition might, over time, widen the
chink to a gap, seriously eroding self-expression while instilling fear,
however real or imagined. Intimidation is the technique.
Opposition to the Iraq war was immediately squelched by this
administration, and not at all subliminally, but by overtly
suggesting dissent was traitorous anti-Americanism and
we, the dangerous dissenters, were "not
supporting our troops."
Unfortunately, and much to its discredit, the media
fearfully, and totally, caved in to the administration hawks and only found its collective
voice much later, when the administration began to falter under the
weight of an Iraqi civil war and Republican scandals. The media then
morphed into the current feeding frenzy after it caught the smell of blood in the roiling political waters.
Add to that the early cowardice displayed by most politicians, some of
whom moved right of center in support of the war and remain there purely
for political reasons, not for moral ones, which for me (who does confess
to a profound cynicism) is an outrage and I hope they lose their political
course, regarding bravery, how many of us are truly courageous enough to swim against the tide?
enough to recall "McCarthyism" will understand the fear and reluctance to
Early on, President Bush
said the NSA data collection was a "limited program." Later
he said, his administration was "obliged to connect the dots."
(Hundreds of million dots?) He also stated that domestic calls are "not
intentionally monitored." One wonders how much unintentional
listening has been going on.
broke the story of AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth opening the door for
intrusion; then Reuters reported that Verizon and BellSouth "have
issued carefully worded denials of a report that they turned over millions
of customers' calling records to a U.S. spy agency." Verizon
wouldn't "confirm or deny." BellSouth: "...we have confirmed...we have not
provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA." What did
they provide? AT&T said it was
obligated to assist law enforcement and government agencies, with no
great deal of parsing here, folks. No surprise since a $200 billion
lawsuit has been filed in 18 states seeking damages for 200 million
customers of all 3 companies. No doubt we'll hear complaints about
greedy lawyers in our "litigious society," which would not be
entirely untrue since lawyers--big surprise--have been known to smell the money as well
as the blood. It will be
interesting when reps from the three companies appear before Arnold
Specter's committee, since they, unlike Bush/Cheney, can not claim
of the ongoing discussions it's very easy to forget the most important
truth: The actual and ongoing NSA mission is to gather foreign intelligence, and not to engage in domestic eavesdropping.
During the committee hearing, General Hayden was a very sharp evader of
questions asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Calif. Dem., telling her over
and over (politely) his responses, if given at that moment, would be too
classified for those not cleared for secure intel, but he would be
happy to provide the info in detail, in private; all of which annoyed me
personally as I realized that at least two or three of her questions
would not actually require going too deeply into classified secrets, could
be at least partly replied to; annoyed me
because he was (politely) arrogant, condescending and therefore insulting,
to the American viewing public--totally in tune with the rest of this administration.
said in a twisty sentence that no one at the NSA has told him
"...there's targeting that's not based on probable cause." He trusts
his guys. And we shouldn't worry. Ain't that sweet?
is, the Foreign Intelligence Act of 1978 has been violated by an
administration that is, and has been, out of control, led by a devious and
incompetent president who for his own--I suppose, imperial--reasons,
believes he has had a blank check to do as he pleases. No one in his
or her right mind, during these terror-ridden times, would doubt the need
for listening in, with warrants signed by judges. The problem, in
the absence of oversight, rests with the deceptive and untrustworthy
administration that has, ostensibly, been in charge of the people in
charge of data collection. It is not paranoiac conspiracy theories
creating suspicion of what has been going on (though theorists always
exist to muddy the waters); but rather the recent history of lying about
so much of what has led us out of Afghanistan and into Iraq.
And now, added to this, we have Bush's smiling top law
enforcement officer, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying he won't
hesitate to tap into telephone conversations of reporters, related to any
criminal leak investigations, while promising not to do it randomly.
The latter barely comforting to those journalists who have the guts
and feel it's their duty to inform American citizens about any criminal behavior
in our government. Of course Gonzales hasn't said anything about his
boss' leaks, while he enthusiastically digs deep into his investigation of USA Today's expose
of the NSA, trying to nail the journalist who did the worthy
deed. ("Worthy" my opinion, I know).
of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, said
she thinks Gonzales has in mind the
1917 Espionage Act, which, having been
created during the first world war to prevent giving secrets to the
Germans (updated 2002), seemed to me to be a wild and desperate stretch
read it; though it and everything else this man, and this administration,
will do, appears purely designed to place a major and lasting chill on our Bill
Of Rights' First Amendment.
was quick to add that the First Amendment right of a free press isn't
absolute when it comes to national security; and if the NSA leak turns
out to be a criminal offense, he's "obligated" to prosecute.
He also said, the American people would like to see the Feds
go after criminal activities. No kidding?
Well, you bet
they would, Mr. Attorney General. For instance, this
country has been in the total grip of corporate interests in regard to the
use of Mexican immigrants. There are, and have been, strict, clearly
defined laws related to the employment of these illegals, with stiff
Which means these corporations have been engaged in serious criminal
activities, activities which you and this administration have chosen to
ignore because of the vast contributions made to the seemingly bottomless
Republican pockets, giving these agra-business guys a free ride and placing the
burden on American taxpayers; the kinds of Americans with immigrant
forbears who, though they recognize the industriousness of these mostly
family-oriented workers, they correctly believe it has been unfair to allow these illegals
to jump to the head of the line in order to satisfy those CEOs who are
eternally pursuing a source of cheap labor.
appear, therefore, that Mr. Gonzales' position is that there are crimes to
prosecute and crimes to wink at. There is a lot of
corruption--lying, cheating, stealing, which I will avoid once again
describing here (for the moment, at least), that Gonzales could
investigate, that he won't, attempting instead to stifle those occasional whistle blowers to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.
and Hayden make a great pair, fitting so well into the Bush/Cheney
administration's devious goals, much to the detriment of our otherwise
I'm not an
insider. I'm not able to prove or disprove anything taking place within
the government; but the irony in all this, for me, is that in spite of the
fact that General Hayden intruded much too far into our privacy, this will
ultimately be overlooked; for it's almost certain that General Hayden,
guilty or not, will be approved by our sterling lawmakers, both sides of
the aisle. Bravery in lawmakers is no longer a
requirement for election to office; only poll-and-market-directed
one-liners, and well-arranged photo ops, is all, and let's get on to safer