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It’s High Time for Some Truth


I don’t know about everyone else, but I am sick and tired of being told that I can’t handle the truth of what is being done in my name by the Bush Administration and the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress.  Here’s some truth for you:  our government was set up by our Founders to have a separation of powers, which would ensure some checks and balances via oversight and constant debate and questioning, so long as it was functioning properly. 

The last few years, the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress has given the Executive Branch a big, fat pass on oversight — and as a result, they have become merely an extension of the bloated executive power grab.

Nowhere has this become more evident than in national security matters, where deference to the actions of the Bush Administration has become one big, fat rubber stamp — which is putting our values and the security of our nation over the long-term in danger. 

Torture detainees?  You betcha, and we won’t do anything other than ask surface questions until the media moves on to the next story.  Decimate the military with piss poor decisions that stretch them too thin, use up the national guard assets until they are squeezed dry and play numbers games with recruiting to hide the ball from the public?  Check.  Revive the discredited Total Information Awareness program to syphon in every bit of US citizen communication without following the FISA laws, spitting on the Constitution and our Bill of Rights in the process?  You betcha.

Look, I’m as worried as the next guy about national security issues — especially considering how badly the Bush Administration has stirred up hornet’s nests all over the world with their mismanagement in Iraq and their horrid practice of non-diplomacy and lack of forethought everywhere else. 

But I’m also more than aware of what an abuse of power can do to the overall integrity of the process, having spent time in the middle of our judicial system throughout my legal career.  When you have consistent abuses of power, over and over, unchecked and unquestioned, there cannot help but be damage done — long-term damage, which will take years beyond this Administration to ever begin to regain. 

Glenn has a fantastic post today on the recent revelations on the vastness of the illegal NSA domestic spying program.  Building on what Jane was saying last night in her superb post on the latest Bush Administration maneuver to hide the ball from any oversight (even from its own Justice Department), Glenn points out an obvious problem with the latest news about this NSA mess:

That has all changed. We now learn that when Americans call their Aunt Millie, or their girlfriend, or their psychiatrist, or their drug counselor, or their priest or rabbi, or their lawyer, or anyone and everyone else, the Government is very interested. In fact, they are so interested that they make note of it and keep it forever, so that at any time, anyone in the Government can look at a record of every single person whom every single American ever called or from whom they received a call. It doesn’t take a professional privacy advocate to find that creepy, invasive, dangerous and un-American….

One of the disturbing aspects of the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program was that it was seen by many intelligence professionals as a radical departure from the agency’s tradition of not turning its spying capabilities on the American public domestically. The program disclosed yesterday decimates that tradition by many magnitudes. This is a program where the NSA is collecting data on the exclusively domestic communications of Americans, communicating with one another, on U.S. soil — exactly what the NSA was supposed to never do.

I don’t pretend to understand the technical aspects of all of this, but the folks who do have some knowledge of the tech involved are appalled.

As Lambert writes at Correntwire:

All these stories are always careful to say voice and email when describing the nature of the program, but always veer off into describing voice only.

But I care a lot more about email, than voice. Why? Because I do my Democratic politics digitally, in email, not by voice. And given what we know about the Bush administration’s behavior so far… Well, what do you think?

Great summary, that raises some interesting questions, including the big one: what, exactly, is the Bush Administration doing with data on every single phone call and every single e-mail we’ve been sending out?  Zonk at Slashdot has more on some of the tech questions involved, and Forbes reports that Sen. Arlen Specter — the GOP’s favorite tempest in a teapot CYA boy — will be holding hearing to speak to the communication’s company heads to find out what has been going on.

Here’s my suggestion:  hold some real hearings, with teeth and subpoenas for a change.  If ever an Administration needed some serious ass sunshine to blast out the creepy, crawly underside of all their festering, smarmy, hidden nooks and crannies, it is this one.

You want to perform as service to your nation?  Insist that our Constitution be honored and demand real answers.  And when you don’t get them, hold the Bush Administration accountable until you get them — do your damn jobs for a change, instead of leaving all of us hanging.  (Or hanging up, since our personal NSA minders are apparently tracking our every call and e-mail.  And that includes everyone in Congress — how does that make you feel, Senator?)

The FISA laws were written for a reason — and the prohibitions on the NSA doing any domestic spying have been honored for years because this nation of ours valued our system of laws and our commitment to liberty.  That George Bush and his malignant band of cronies have just shoved the FISA laws, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to the side like so much trash is appalling enough.  The fact that the Republicans in Congress have allowed them to do so — by politicizing the Intelligence Committees in both houses and refusing to do the essential oversight hearings that might have actually raised appropriate questions on this illegality; by abdicating their oversight responsiblities as required by their oath to protect the Constitution and uphold our system of checks and balances; by essentially making their own jobs obsolete because they have functioned as nothing more than a rubber stamp for every Bush Administration program that has come down the pike…well, it’s unforgiveable.

Whatever threats have been made to ensure their complicity — either that Rove will turn off the donor tap or something else beyond that — Republicans run Congress and it is high time they started acting like a separate branch of government.  Being too weak to hold oversight hearings, and too accommodating to ask the tough questions or issue subpoenas or even put the Attorney General under oath to answer questions is not good enough.  Either do your jobs, or stop taking my tax dollars as part of your paychecks — because you sure as hell aren’t earning your salaries.

I expect better.  So did our Founders.  Shame on them — it’s time for some redemption, though, and some hearings which demand honest and thorough answers.  The American public deserves nothing less.  It is high time for some truth.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com