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.