Sunday, December 18, 2005

It Takes Two To Lie

Man, have y'all been following this NSA domestic spying thing? In case you haven't, here's a quick summary:
The super-secretive NSA, which has generally been barred from domestic spying except in narrow circumstances involving foreign nationals, has monitored the e-mail, telephone calls and other communications of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people under the program, the New York Times disclosed last night.
At first the White House refused to comment on this, but now the prez has admitted to authorizing the spying (for some reason, the press is mostly using the term "eavesdropping") and is defending it with his usual "I can do what I want, and if you disagree you want the terrorists to win" rhetoric:
Bush said the program has been reviewed regularly by the nation's top legal authorities and targets only those people with "a clear link to these terrorist networks." Noting the failures to detect hijackers already in the country before the strikes on New York and Washington, Bush said the NSA's domestic spying since then has helped thwart other attacks.
I hate to sound like Dennis Miller, but I actually don't mind some increased government interference in my life, including email monitoring and phone tapping and such, in order to keep me from getting blown up. I know, I know, in principle this is a terrible thing, but I can only get worked up about so many principles, and this week most of my emotional energy is being spent on the big Dallas Cowboys - Washington Potomac Drainage Basin Indigeneous Peoples game.

While I can't get worked up about this issue in principle, I can get plenty hot about the issue in practice. Bush sr., Clinton, Carter, even Reagan I could have trusted to manage the precarious balance of national security versus civil liberties, but not the present gaggle of Mayberry Machiavellis. "Reviewed by the nation's top legal authorities"? Does that mean torture boy Gonzales? I'm supposed to think the people who are fine with Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are going to protect my civil liberties? They're only going after folks with a clear link to terrorist networks? What about the reports we've heard about guys with muslim heritage getting hauled off for torture and what not, only to later be revealed as innocent bystanders?

But the thing that's really got me worked up is the bit about "failures to detect hijackers already in the country before the strikes on New York and Washington." Uhh, according to the 9/11 report, quite a few of the hijackers WERE detected, but the dots never got connected. Communication, both within agencies such as the FBI and CIA as well as between agencies, was the biggest problem, not limited surveillance (although I do recall the report calling for better surveillance, I sure as heck don't remember any recommendations for domestic spying).

As a wise man once said, it takes two to lie: one to lie, and one to listen. I'm pretty tired of listening.

6 comments:

Studiodave said...

According to the Sunday AM talkies, apparently warrents for this kind of thing have their own "front of the line" priority with their own dedicated court - which turns around a decision within 24 hours tops.

So the question is - why is this not good enough?

My only guess is the legal threshold for probable cause it too high for the Bushies.

FYI - they also commented that nothing they learn(ed) from these listenings can be used in court. Which I guess is fine, if there never plan to take anyone to trial anyway.

Mrs_Thrillhous said...

this week most of my emotional energy is being spent on the big Dallas Cowboys - Washington Potomac Drainage Basin Indigeneous Peoples game.

Ooooh, and then you could watch only the first quarter! Rough, eh? Yeah, we're a household divided. So, I am not the one buying our next dinner out. Where can T'hous be spending all his money on me...

Back to the main topic. I remember that one of the 9/11 hijackers was not only on the CIA watch list, but he was also listed in his local phone book under his real name. They could've caught him, no surveillance necessary.

Otto Man said...

The fact that they did this after the Patriot Act was put in place is just ridiculous. Like SD says, an eavesdropping warrant for a suspected terrorist would be rubber stamped by even the most hippish judge in the country. The fact that they kept these secret suggests that there's something really big behind it all.

I do love the irony that some moderate Republicans are now balking at renewing the Patriot Act because they're so outraged over this. Once again, Bush takes aim at the terrorists and shoots himself in the foot. It's like having Daffy Duck as Commander in Chief.

Otto Man said...

That should be "hippie-ish" or however that made-up word should be spelled.

Thrillhous said...

I watched the whole first half, thank you very much. What a painful event that was.

There's a pretty good post up at firedoglake about the spying thing.

S.W. Anderson said...

"Bush sr., Clinton, Carter, even Reagan I could have trusted to manage the precarious balance of national security versus civil liberties, but not the present gaggle of Mayberry Machiavellis."

Good name for them.

It goes back to Bush's limited education and lack of intellectual depth.

It goes back to Bush needing and always latching onto an enabling special situation, threat, need, purpose, cause. Armed with this and added to the fact he's peznit, he believes he can do whatever he decides to do and that will just have to be OK.

It goes back to an underlying belief that since he's been chosen by God, serves a higher authority and is fighting a big external threat, the typical Bush/right-wing GOP anything-to-win approach is justified.

And, of course, since his ends are red, white and blue through and through, plus bein' on God's side, the ends justify the means.

BTW, fascist dictators who gain power through elections, as opposed to a coup or revolution, do just these things to get the people behind them, and do them again afterward to consolidate and entrench their power.