… you thought you had? Look fast, folks – they’re going, going, gone!
Bushies push NSA wiretap extravaganza: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to hide
By Thomas C Greene in Dublin
Published Monday 20th November 2006 14:13 GMT
True freedom is protecting Americans by letting the NSA monitor their email and phone calls by the millions without a warrant, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explained to Air Force Academy cadets in a speech last week.
It’s a mistake to regard such Gestapo tactics as compromising freedom, he told the young officers in training. “This [antagonistic] view is shortsighted. Its definition of freedom – one utterly divorced from civic responsibility – is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people”.
Only days earlier, vice president Dick Cheney had denounced an August court decision in Michigan that found the NSA wiretap program unconstitutional as “an indefensible act of judicial overreaching”.
It should surprise no one that the Bush administration is mounting a PR campaign to sell its illegal mass wiretap program, even though it’s hardly a hot news item at the moment (the Michigan decision is being appealed). The sales job is directed toward the lame duck Republican Congress, in hopes of having the domestic spying program legalised after the fact, before Democrats take control of the Hill.
As recently as February 2006, Cheney had sought to put a lid on public debate and news coverage of the illegal operation: “The biggest problem we’ve got right now, frankly…is all the public discussion about it. I think we have in fact probably done serious damage to our long-term capabilities in this area because it was printed first in the New York Times, and subsequently because there have been succeeding stories about it.”
But now he and Gonzales are reviving the debate, because this is the administration’s last chance to get the legislation it needs to avoid an embarrassing confrontation with Congress, that will, at a minimum, involve long, tortuous public hearings.
Back in February, Cheney confidently dismissed critics by declaring: “We believe…that we have all the legal authority we need.”
But Gonzales has softened this imperious message in light of the public’s recent vote of absolutely no confidence. The new spin goes like this: “We believe the president has the authority under the authorisation of military force and the inherent authority of the Constitution to engage in this sort of program, but we want to supplement that authority,” Gonzales explained.
Read the rest of it here.