I haven’t had much to say on this FISA bit, and there are several reasons for this.
First, and I guess we can just chalk this up to either naivete or cynicism (or ignorance), and you can take your pick, I sort of just assumed that NSA and other agencies monitored foreign communications and monitored them for national security issues. I thought that is what NSA did. I thought that is what Echelon did. I thought that is what the big complex at Ft. Meade was for.
I don’t know if I am “‘OK” with that- but that is what I thought they did, and I had grown to accept it. I would be livid if they used these intercepts for issues unrelated to national security, like drug or other criminal issues, or corporate espionage, or spying on domestic political opposition, but I errantly was under the impression that NSA did just spy on foreign communications. Again, I am not sure if I am ok with that, but I thought that they had permission to do it, so it is a little difficult to get outraged about something you thought was happening all along. I am glad it is illegal and they are not doing what I thought they were, but I am having a hard time getting whipped into a frothing rage. Does that make sense?
Second, I am not sure what all actually has gone on. Was it just snooping intercepts between Al Qaeda agents? Because I am ok with that. Are they situations such as the one described here? I don’t know, and neither does anyone else, to my knowledge.
Third, I am not convinced Bush has done anything wrong (and I mean in the legal sense) . The statutes are a complicated mess for a layman (loudmouth idiot) like me, and for every person in high dudgeon that Bush should be impeached, I can give you a security expert who claims what Bush did was within the letter of the law. Not surprisingly, the most strident critics are all Democrats, the most ardent supporters are Republicans (with the exception of Bob Barr). If it turns out he broke the law, I am not going to support him.
At any rate, putting all that aside, this is inexcusable:
WASHINGTON — In confirming the existence of a top-secret domestic spying program, President Bush offered one case as proof that authorities desperately needed the eavesdropping ability in order to plug a hole in the counter-terrorism firewall that had allowed the Sept. 11 plot to go undetected.
In his radio address Saturday, Bush said two of the hijackers who helped fly a jet into the Pentagon — Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar — had communicated with suspected Al Qaeda members overseas while they were living in the U.S.
“But we didn’t know they were here until it was too late,” Bush said. “The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after Sept. 11 helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities.”
But some current and former high-ranking U.S. counter-terrorism officials say that the still-classified details of the case undermine the president’s rationale for the recently disclosed domestic spying program.
Indeed, a 2002 inquiry into the case by the House and Senate intelligence committees blamed interagency communication breakdowns — not shortcomings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or any other intelligence-gathering guidelines.
This is the strongest indication to me that they did do something wrong, and they know it.
Why can this gang not shoot straight? Why can they not tell the truth? Why?
On days like this, the Bush administration reminds me of heroin addicts. Junkies will lie to you- about everything. Sometimes they lie intentionally, sometimes accidentally, sometimes they can’t tell truth from fiction. But they never have any long-range concepts of time- it is just say whatever they can to get out of the current mess, with no regard for what is going to happen tomorrow, or what is going to happen when this false truth is uncovered. It is just deal with the right here and the right now, get their fix, and deal with tomorrow when it comes.
They don’t respect themselves. They don’t respect you. And they just do whatever they have to do and say whatever they have to say to get by.
I don’t think Bush is personally a bad man or an evil man. But I wonder what the hell is going on in this White House, and I wonder what the hell is wrong with these people and why they keep setting Bush up for the fall like this. Why would his advisors clear this speech if it is bullshit? At some point, when you deal with junkies and addicts, you have to quit trying to convince yourself that they are telling you the truth and realize that they can’t help themselves- they are going to rob you, they are going to lie to you, and they aren’t going to remember why tomorrow.
If this latest piece in the LAT turns out to be true, I will be at that point. I simply will refuse to believe anything this administration says.
*** Update ***
Jeff Goldstein, who apparently takes any discussion of this administration’s honesty and forthrightness personally, states I am talking smack and assumes it is a matter of bad faith:
John Cole works himself into quite a state today over an LA Times story he believes suggests that the President may have “lied”—a pronouncement upon which John’s commentariat pounces like angry terriers on a bloody lamb shank.***
Second, Cole’s reaction is so hyperbolic as to beg credulity.
Because this administration would never lie or embellish anything.
In short, Jeff’s real claim is that I am being sucked in by the LAT’s distortion of Bush’s statement. Why he couldn’t just say that without the charges of bad faith is beyond me.