Monday, December 19

The madness of King George.

I didn't even watch President Bush's press conference this morning because I already had a pretty good idea what he was going to say: 1) The fact that someone blew the whistle on his secret judiciary-circumventing surveillance program is worse than the fact that one existed in the first place, and 2) he can do pretty much whatever he wants, including violating the constitution, as long as he can hitch it somehow to the War on Terra.

Ready? Let's see how I did:

My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy.

You've got to understand -- and I hope the American people understand -- there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they're very dangerous.

Check, and check. Extra demerits for the fact that those statements comprised three of the first five sentences in the Q&A portion of the press conference -- a new personal best in the 100-meter freestyle rationalization! -- and the fact that he uttered that last sentence ("they're very dangerous") in that talking-down-to-a-little-kid-or-foreigner inflection I've already decried at length, the one that makes the laughable implication that Bush is smarter than anyone he might be talking to.

Baby sis has some pretty good questions about this whole business, including what happens if/when we arrest a suspected terrorist based on these below-board wiretaps and then can't use the tapped conversations as evidence -- though I've got a sinking feeling that such dilemmas can simply be designed out of whatever heads-I-win-tails-you-lose secret court/military tribunal the Bush administration sets up to prosecute these folks. But another good question has been posed by the spot-on TBOGG, as in Who Does This Remind You Of?:

· He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

· He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers

· He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

· For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

· For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

· For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

· He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

You'd think that such words would send chills down the spines of the Republican Party, but they've already made clear their disdain for old documents -- not that I think you could prove they had spines in the first place.


Anonymous said...

From what I've read of the program, I not only support it, but am proud that we have the technology to do it. Congressional leaders were briefed on it, so it wasn't carried out in a total vacuum. Whether it's legal or not is unclear. All the rhetoric is entertaining, but if you explain what was actually done to the average American, my guess is most would support it.

ACG said...

Everyone possessing both legal knowledge and sanity has said that the president's actions are in violation of FISA, which requires only that he get a warrant within 72 hours of ordering a wiretap. He doesn't even have to get it in advance. And yet he still can't keep the country safe from terr'ists without violating the law. To me, that says he either has some kind of grandiose power trip where he just gets off on violating the law without consequence, or he has some reason that he doesn't want the FISA courts knowing who he's spying on. Explain to the average American that the president feels he has the right to listen in on their phone conversations without having any reason to suspect them of anything, and my guess is most would be appropriately skeeved out by it.

Anonymous said...

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Anonymous said...

Explain to the average American that the government will be monitoring any call between themselves and a known terrorist outside the US and they'll say "I would hope so".

Everyone is so up in a lather to portray this as "listen in on their phone conversations without having any reason to suspect them of anything" when it clearly wasn't that.

ACG said...

It clearly wasn't that? That's kind of a stretch, I think, seeing as how the president hasn't gone to any lengths to make anything clear. Basically, all that he's made clear is that he feels he has the right to spy on any American for any reason, without having to justify it to anyone or tell anyone that he's doing it.

Wiretapping in conjunction with FISA is clearly the surveillance of people with known terrorist connections who are being tapped for a good reason. Bush going outside of FISA without any need to do so (or justification of doing so) leads me to believe that something clearly is fishy.

ACG said...

Y'know what, though? Screw that. That's the wrong argument. The reason that what he did was wrong was that the Constitution says he can't. That's all we need to know. The fourth amendment says he can't do what he's doing, whether or not he chooses to believe that he's limited by the Bill of Rights. And I am just aghast at all of these seemingly-otherwise-reasonable people who keep saying, "Well, gosh, it's okay that he violated the Constitution and discarded our civil liberties like a McDonald's wrapper. I'm sure he had a heckuva good reason for it."

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Just out of curiosity, what reasons did Bush have for wanting to spy on PETA or the Catholic Workers' Group? You want to act like this surveillance was only directed at communication with known terrorists outside the U.S., but it quite clearly wasn't. So quit accusing people of not having bothered to research "what really happened" when you clearly haven't bothered to do that yourself.

Anonymous said...

Neither you or I were talking about the FBI's activities and I've seen no evidence that the spying we were talking about involved PETA or the Catholics. This is all so cut and dried to you. The Associated Press (hardly a right wing lap dog) isn't so sure:;_ylt=AgrPfZ28R7uxcEuw1gDIoTGyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--