First let’s address the latest revelations from our friends in the United Kingdom. When you combine this memo with the original “Downing Street” memo one can’t help but believe the worst. Bush and Blair shamelessly deliberated over how to “provoke” a confrontation with Saddam. This is reminiscent of Adolph Hitler conjuring up a pre-text to invade Poland in 1939. If that offends anyone – I don’t care. What they did is a criminal act and dishonored my country.
Intelligence “failures” which guided both leaders to war is an urban legend. Washington and London both knew there was no evidence of WMD’s in Iraq. The British memos make that clear and expose the public explanation about flawed intelligence as complete fiction.
When CIA director George Tenet told Bush they had a “slam dunk” case, that DID NOT mean there were WMD’s in Iraq. Indeed what Tenet really meant was, “we can scare the American public to support you.” Both memos from Blair’s government put Tenet’s boasts in that context.
Tenet fell on his sword to protect this secret and was rewarded with a medal. I believe Tenet truly wanted to protect America from Al Quaeda prior to 9/11 but was in over his head. That’s the impression I have from reading Richard Clark’s book Against All Enemies. Tenet’s pre 9/11 failures merited his immediate termination the next day. His conduct after 9/11 ought to be enough to have him frogmarched to a maximum-security prison.
Senator John McCain, the GOP’s lying maverick rolled out their standard propaganda regarding worldwide intelligence failures on Meet the Press today. Retired former U.S. Marine General Tony Zinni decisively refuted McCain’s claim’s on the same program (online transcripts not available as of this posting).
Once upon a time I respected McCain because of his military service and willingness to stand firm against his party’s “agents of intolerance” as he referred to Jerry Falwell in the 2000 campaign. McCain's performance today demonstrated that he’s just a garden variety lying Republican.
As for the Bush Administration’s justifications for their illegal domestic surveillance program, I am reminded of a lyric written by the Who’s Pete Townsend on their Odds and Sod’s album:
“You can cover up your guts but when you cover up your nuts you’re admitting that there must be something wrong.”
If as they claim domestic surveillance is required to monitor terrorists they have a legal framework in place with the FISA protocol. It is a very forgiving legal protocol which practically grants the executive branch unlimited discretion.
Some claim that FISA is outdated in this era of computers and emails. A single computer may contain a thousand email addresses and require warrants for everyone one of them. Well, if there is one thing we can all agree government does well it’s generate paper – so I don’t see that as a compelling excuse.
However, if we concur that FISA is an anachronism for today’s challenges, then the Constitution demands the executive branch drafts a new legal framework with elected representatives from Congress. Does anyone doubt that both parties in congress would’ve given this President anything he asked following 9/11? Both the Patriot Act and the 2002 resolution regarding Iraq aptly illustrate that point.
Hence, as a sentient being capable of deductive reasoning and a student of human nature, it seems obvious the administration is using their domestic surveillance program for reasons other than terrorism. Perhaps they’re monitoring political adversaries?
To this point the Democrats behave as if they’re victims of battered wife syndrome. Meanwhile the GOP resembles every divorced woman’s abusive first husband. I don’t expect Democrats to publicly accuse the administration of abusing domestic surveillance for reasons other than terrorism as I have, until there is tangible proof. Even Senator Feingold has refrained from going that far and politically that makes sense.
Their inability to support Feingold regarding censure however is cowardly at best and immoral at worst. The President broke the law and resists all attempts at oversight. Once again we’re expected to “trust” this administration’s intentions and not hold anyone accountable. The battered wife doesn’t want to turn to the law while the abusive husband behaves dishonorably with utter impunity.
In 1998, Senator Joe Lieberman couldn’t rush to the senate floor fast enough to condemn President Clinton for his illicit behavior. Clinton was abroad at the time and Lieberman refused to wait for Clinton’s return – violating the quaint tradition of not attacking the president while he was in a foreign country. Other Democrats applauded Lieberman for this at the time.
Yet most Democrats shy away from taking this President on about violating our civil liberties? Enough! A battered wife will continue to be battered until she decides her days of being tread upon are over.
Feingold smartly put forward a censure resolution to hold the administration accountable under the law and use as leverage for obtaining the truth. It’s an eminently easy and reasonable course. Conservatives habitually cherry pick which laws are worth enforcing: condemning illegal immigration but forgiving lawbreaking from President Bush.
Yes, the Democrats are the minority party but if they unified on this point the Republicans would be on the defensive and we might even learn whom this administration is really spying on.
The time has come to aggressively peel back the GOP onion. Consider this an opportunity for the Democrats to become a confident grown up instead of a battered wife.