CommunityPam's House Blend

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear

Pam notes below that the Senate is balking at reauthorizing the USA unPATRIOTic ACT. I wonder if some senators actually learned something from our nation’s history (COINTELPRO, anyone?) and realized that government powers of domestic surveillance are always abused by those in power if we let them:

NEW YORK – A key Republican committee chairman put the Bush administration on notice Friday that his panel would hold hearings into a report that the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he would make oversight hearings by his panel next year “a very, very high priority.”

“There is no doubt that this is inappropriate,” said Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Well, senator Specter, don’t you know that 9/11 changed everything? The terrorists hate us for our freedom, so, in order to get them to stop hating us, we’re getting rid of those pesky freedoms.

The Times reported Friday that following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, President Bush authorized the NSA to monitor the international phone calls and international e-mails of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people inside the United States.

Before the program began, the NSA typically limited its domestic surveillance to foreign embassies and missions and obtained court orders for such investigations. Overseas, 5,000 to 7,000 people suspected of terrorist ties are monitored at one time.

Government officials credited the new program with uncovering several terrorist plots, including one by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting al-Qaida by planning to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, the report said.

See? Without these expanded government powers to spy on its own citizens, we could have lost the Brooklyn Bridge! Right?

But Faris’ lawyer, David B. Smith, said on Friday the news puzzled him because none of the evidence against Faris appeared to have come from surveillance, other than officials eavesdropping on his cell phone calls while he was in FBI custody.

When asked about the authorization given by Bush to violate our civil liberties (again), White House spokesdroid Scott “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation” McClellan tells us:

[McClellan] continued, “Soon after 9/11 the president made a commitment to do two things: Everything lawfully within his power to protect the American people and save lives … and (to) remain fully committed to uphold the Constitution and protect the civil liberties of the American people. He has done both.”

If by “both” you mean “neither”. Wow, what a great example of Bushian doublespeak! Let’s see if that talking point got distributed to all the usual suspects. Kindasleezzy Lies, it’s your turn:

“I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters,” she said. But Rice did say that President Bush “has always said he would do everything he can to protect the American people, but within the law, and with due regard for civil liberties because he takes seriously his responsibility.”

“The president acted lawfully in every step that he has taken,” Rice said, “to defend the American people and to defend the people within his constitutional responsibility.”

Alright, for those of you playing Bush Doublespeak Bingo at home, we’re now 2 for 2. Let’s go for the trifecta. AbuGhraibo Quantzalez, batter up!

Gonzales said Bush is waging an aggressive fight against terrorism, but one that is “consistent with the Constitution.”

“Winning the war on terrorism requires winning the war of information We are dealing with a patient, diabolical enemy who wants to harm America,” Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department to announce child prostitution arrests.

You’ve got to admire their consistency, eh? So, how is it that three presumably intelligent individuals could declare Bush has acted perfectly within the law and the Constitution in ordering warrantless surveillance of citizens? Simple. Secretly change the rules:

The Times quoted officials familiar with the NSA operation as saying that Bush’s executive order allowing warrantless eavesdropping on those inside the United States was based on classified legal opinions stating that the president has broad powers to order such measures, based in part on a September 2001 congressional resolution authorizing him to wage war on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

But some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said. Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.

Finally, I know it’s going to sound like a broken record, but let’s stop to get the lie from the liar-in-chief:

Bush said in an interview that “we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there’s an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we’re trying to do to stop them.

“I will make this point,” he continued. “That whatever I do to protect the American people — and I have an obligation to do so — that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people.”

And all of this is on the heels of the news that the Pentagon has been keeping a database of surveillance on anti-war protest groups. I guess it’s understandable. Spying on American citizens in your own back yard who (mostly) speak English has got to be much easier than spying on al-Qaeda in the Middle East who (mostly) speak Farsi, especially considering we fired many of the qualified Farsi translators for being gay.

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