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Lets's talk about democracy
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Monday, 19 December 2005
The speechifying continues:
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Last night W. gave a 17 minute speech on prime time TV in which he called on those who no longer believe that the war is, "Worth another dime or another day" to now trust him that things are going now according to plan in Iraq and that he has "fixed what has not worked." He cited as evidence of this approach the parliamentary elections on the 15th which will now supposedly usher in a new era of "Constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East." Naturally, everybody hopes that things will go right in the upcoming negotiations to form a new government and the various tribal, regional and religious factions can find common ground and hammer out an equitable agreement to live together in a united Iraq, but I'm not holding my breath. If this very iffy assumption is based on our efforts so far to help the "Iraqi government establish the institutions of a unified and lasting democracy," including the last "landmark election" in January and the embarrassing constitutional drafting process that followed, I'd have to say he's reverted back to his old rosy scenarios and wishful thinking.

W. said of those who have disagreed with his policies that, "There is a difference between honest critics who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see anything right." That's kind of funny because up until a few weeks ago he was the one who couldn't see anything wrong with what was going on in Iraq. Almost over night, it would seem, he's finally taken to heart the urgings of his critics to change course and now everything is back on track. One wonders how many Americans soldier's lives we might have saved if he'd listened to his detractors much earlier on, instead of smearing them in the media and discounting their views as helpful to the terrorists.

The president wants all Americans to understand that a withdrawal now would "undermine the morale of our troops--by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed." He doesn't say that most of them were under the erroneous impression, propagated by him and his righteous lieutenants, that Saddam had something to do with 9/11---which he didn't---and was threatening to attack us with WMD, which he didn't possess, no matter how W. & Co. had convinced themselves he had them. That sort of cynical manipulation of our military people's patriotism can undermine morale too, not to mention endless rotations back to Iraq which could go on for another decade while we wait for the Shiites, the Kurds and the Sunnis to kill enough of each other off to come to an understanding.

Is this the "cause" for which perhaps a thousand or more troops will have to die for? Or is it more important to make sure "Tyrants in the Middle East" don't "laugh at our failed resolve?" No doubt, he only means the Mullahs in Iran and Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, but the tyrants in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait aren't making any sign of loosening their "repressive grip" and our good friend Islam Karimov is having a pretty good laugh at our lack of resolve in doing anything about his wholesale killing and boiling of his opponents.

Spying for freedom:

And while we're busy losing our precious blood and treasure for the freedom of Shiites and Iraqis to kill each other 6000 miles away in that "Vital region of the world," with its vital resources, here at home the president is taking advantage of his "prerogatives" to spy on American's phone calls and e-mail without bothering to let anybody know about it.

The NYT reports, that the N.S.A "Eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said." Yesterday, Condi Rice kept assuring Tim Russert in her tortured rendition of the law that the spying was legal and the constitution gave the president the power to spy on Americans without any checks, although she said she wasn't a lawyer so she couldn't name to the exact statute that gave him that power. W. today in his press conference couldn't exactly say which law allowed him to do it either, but trust him, he can, and besides, members of congress were informed 12 times.

All necessary means:

So there you go, all perfectly legal. It appears, though, that some in the N.S.A were concerned about the legality of such an operation. A senior Bush administration official told the Times that, "Before the 2004 election...some N.S.A. personnel worried that the program might come under scrutiny by Congressional or criminal investigators if Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, was elected president." So, you can see why it was so important to make sure all those Debolt machines were fixed just right in several keys states before the election; there was a lot at stake.

The question of why W. and his minions couldn't just go to the Fisa courts, since they' re are pretty much of a rubber stamp anyway, kept coming up at the press conference today and W. said it was because the courts were too slow, this despite the fact that they can go to the court within 72 hours after the wiretap.

One wonders what they were up that was so egregious that they were too afraid to even bring it to a Fisa court; this is the real question. W. may think Article 2 of the constitution gives him the power of the Commander and Chief to ignore the law but one other president tried this end-around the law once before and the result was Jimmy Carter signing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 which Carter said, "Requires, for the first time, a prior judicial warrant for all electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes in the United States."

Seems pretty clear to me, but apparently Cheney's Rasputin David Addington and DOJ trickster John Yoo thought otherwise and OK'd it, just like Yoo OK'd the tortured legal opinions on looking into people's business, medical and library records for the Patriot Act. They must have been the one's who gave W. the twisted idea that they could get away with this because they were only monitoring calls from New York to Kabul, for instance, and not from LA to Boston. In that case, of course, they would tell the courts what they were up to. But W. says even talking about this issue helps the terrorists, so I don't get the impression the full impact of this kingly usurping of powers he doesn't possess has really gotten through his think skull.

Hopefully, Congress will finally take back the power from the executive it so irresponsibly gave away after 9/11, if it’s not too late already. AG Alberto Gonzales says Congress's resolution to give the president the power to use all ....triggered the president's right to

In the matters of the secret CIA prisons and the torture that goes on in them, the Patriot Act and now the revelations of overreach in domestic spying, the Congress is finally reasserting its authority. The Patriot Act is being filibustered, the Senate is going to pass a law requiring the administration to give them regular updates on the locations of our secret prisons, "if there are any," the identity of the prisoners in them and their conditions and the McCain bill banning cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners is on its way to becoming law.

Meanwhile, the reports of mistreatment and torture keep coming out:

The NYT reports today that, "Eight men at the American detention camp in Guant?namo Bay have separately given their lawyers "consistent accounts" of being tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan at various periods from 2002 to 2004, Human Rights Watch, a group based in New York, said Sunday."

Reuters reports, "The men were taken to a prison near Kabul where they were shackled to walls, kept in darkness for weeks, deprived of food and water for days at a time, bombarded with loud rap and heavy metal music, and punched and slapped during questioning by U.S. interrogators.

"The prison may have been operated by personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency," the New York-based group said in a report released on Sunday."

Looks like the McCain is coming not a minute too soon. But, naturally, we don;t torture.



Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:21 PM EST
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