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     Recall, if you will, President (tricky dick) Nixon during the Viet Nam war, how he had his

 

January 17/06  

OPINION:  

One more deception by the imperial presidency, folks:

Domestic spying.

Regarding Bush/Cheney and the NSA, an agency that used to be so secret that it was otherwise known as "No Such Agency:"  In 2002, sneaky George Bush, flying just under the public awareness radar,  signed a presidential order which authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on American citizens and others, within U.S. borders.  So what else is new?

       Vice President Cheney, a man who believes it is his way or the highway, has told us he's not interested in what your Aunt Sadie has to say.  Now this statement coming from another source might be accepted on faith, but we are dealing here with a man who along with his president, has consistently deceived the American voter; lying with all the world as witness on television, insisting on a connection between Al Quaeda and Iraq, then later denying he said this, again on television; in essence arrogantly conveying to the viewer: Most people are too stupid to catch me lying, and anyway I don't give a shit if they do.  I'm guessing Aunt Sadie has been catching on and beginning to feel some resentment about this guy's attitude.   Keep in mind the essential NSA mission has traditionally been to spy on foreign communications, and so Bush, having placed his signature on the presidential order, put in motion the monitoring of perhaps thousands of U.S. citizens, in effect causing the agency to seriously cross the line and travel far beyond its constitutional limits and whacking the hell out of the 4th Amendment,  not to mention breaking the law, in general, with what might prove to be criminal intent.   

       Recall, if you will, President (tricky dick) Nixon during the Viet Nam war, how he had his agencies spying on civil rights and anti-war activists.  This resulted in the enactment of a 1978 law--The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--which forbade the NSA to use no-warrant domestic surveillance, a law which sneaky Bush/Cheney, 24 years hence,  chose to ignore, bypassing the "lawyers group" of government attorneys that the NSA convenes to look at intelligence programs; bypassing the 11 member FISA court which is supposed to listen to NSA requests for warrants for spying, with Bush/Cheney claiming this court procedure to be much too slow in this fast-paced terrorist-threatened world of ours.  Well, this is just out and out lying.

       The imperials know full well that the NSA can jump into action before receiving warrants, and still have another 72 hours to have them granted by FISA, a court which almost never refuses a warrant.  Now if the administration actually claims it can't begin to keep up with an enormous flow of needed warrants, as it has implied, this may mean not thousands, but millions are being listened in on.  Scary stuff.

 

       Most of us are aware of this additional Bush/Cheney deception because of book-author and reporter, James Risen, a man to whom several government whistle blowers had come forward because they were troubled by what was going on at the NSA; only one of whom is named so far: Russ Tice, who was warned by an NSA director, not to testify before congress because house and senate members do not have proper security clearance. The catch, natch.  Though Mr. Tice, who no doubt frustrated said director,  says he can talk because what he has to say is not classified. 

       Mr. Risen had written the NSA story a year ago for the NY Times, which mysteriously chose not to print it until recently, but did so apparently, so as not to be scooped by the NSA story contained in Risen's just published book: "State Of War, The Secret History Of the CIA And The Bush Administration."  Bush quietly implored the Times not to publish, a plea they thankfully ignored.  It's interesting to note that Bush claimed the expose would jeopardize the agency's entire monitoring program by alerting the world's would-be terrorists, who otherwise--duh-- would never have guessed we had been listening in.

       C'mon!  Just about every informed American voter, every foreign government, and sophisticated terrorists of every stripe, have known for years about the NSA and what it does.  Terrorists are not just off the turnip truck and suddenly ducking for cover because of this story.  It is the Bush administration that is ducking, upset because it did not want the American people to know of this warrantless, criminal, domestic monitoring of our e-mail and telephone conversations; and now, hypocritically, it is mounting a Justice investigation to find out who has been talking. Maybe Bush should now try to clamp down on the FBI for revealing that the NSA had swamped it with dead end names of innocents swept up in the domestic spying fiasco.

       This despicable administration, threatened by its own scandal riddled imperial party, lied to us to bring us into a war for oil and no-bid contracts, sent too few troops to Iraq with too little armor, ignored with their usual arrogance the Middle East experts who warned of tribal strife and cultural resentments, fear mongered the American public with countless orange alerts prior to the last election, undercut any moral high ground we may of had by continuing to torture prisoners, and swift-boated Democratic Representative John Murtha for his refreshing truth-telling about the fears and disappointments of our officers and men on the dangerous ground of Iraq.  And no doubt I am labeled a traitor for expressing my constitutional right of dissent.

      

      

        But now follow the ol' Catch 22 that is at work here, folks.  Our lawmakers are supposed to be key to the checks and balances needed to provide a healthy resistance to the wilder moves of the executive branch--in this case Bush/Cheney and their imperial presidency, who inevitably claim that their every act, illegal or otherwise, is ultra secret and therefore classified, and that to reveal these acts will surely give aid and comfort to the enemy. So clever. And consider:

        Early on, when congressional leaders were told in private, by Bush/Cheney, about the spy program, snarling Cheney told them flat out that they "were being informed, not consulted," and since what they were told was a matter of extreme security, the ground rules were such that no provision was available for mounting an opposing view on the house or senate floor, and certainly not in a more public venue like television.  All of which afforded the imperials the opportunity to tell us, we the great unwashed, that our lawmakers were told early on about the spying--so there!

        And now we slip through the looking glass and into the wonderland of Attorney General Gonzales' nutsy-cuckoo logic, who when asked why Bush hadn't requested congress to amend FISA so as to allow for domestic spying, he answered in effect: Well congress would probably deny the request, anyway.  So why bother? Don't you understand that? This is war, man.  We don't have time to mess around with shit like that.  Wow! Brilliant!  Do you like that reasoning?  Just go around the friggin' congress and the 4th Amendment, and the Constitution be damned! 

       You don't make a request for something you know will be denied, man.  Why don't you understand that? This is WAR!

 

       Bush, using Gonzales' goofy logic,  has claimed that congressional approval of his use of force against Al Quaeda gave legal weight to his secret domestic eavesdropping.  No, it is only in the context of his wonderland distortions of the facts that legal weight might appear to exist.  And then Bush adds that he needs his authority to spy on us for as long as we are at war with terrorists.  Hell, this "war" can be ongoing for the next 50 years, for as long we are in the Middle East to suck up their crude for our mindless use of energy; all of which is really to satisfy this toxic administration's greedy oil pals and their extraordinary lobby, which in turn has ruthlessly elbowed out alternate fuel/energy solutions, and has as a result,  dominated our country's foreign policy, to its detriment.

 

       In 2002 an appeals court noted "the presidents' inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless foreign intelligence," while at the same time noting that this should not allow the administration "to jettison the 4th Amendment." That's quite clear to me, but apparently not to Bush/Cheney.  And currently, add to this that Republican Arlen Specter, who is to hold hearings on this NSA mess in February, has not only told the administration that it is on shaky legal ground, but he also commented, "generally speaking," that impeachment and criminal prosecution are possibilities if the president acted unconstitutionally. Though I believe he indicated, this was not likely, which does not surprise me in the least since, with this administration, the buck rarely stops where it should.

        One final comment: If President Clinton had exceeded his executive authority in the same fashion, the Republicans would be screaming "Impeachment!"  And don't forget, in Clinton's case, their vitriolic complaints were about lying in regard to sexual encounters, not about lying in regard to a major war with 20,000 American casualties, and outright spying on American citizens.

       I confess I was about to finish by asking, Where are the other indignant Democratic voices?  And then I discovered the comments of Hillary Clinton and Al Gore. Finally!

SAMMY

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