Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bush snookers everyone again


Pat Murphy

When Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 to prevent another president from wiretapping Americans without a court order, as Richard Nixon did while stalking critics on his "enemies list," it didn't count on a George W. Bush and men around him who disregard law, treat honesty as something for first-graders, and flunk basic ethics as impediments to their design for America.

Bush is snookering us again, claiming that war powers give him authority that is expressly prohibited by law.

In this era of the politically gutless—with the once-vigorous Washington press corps dominated by Nervous Nellies and infiltrated by Bush supporters on the take—President Bush is virtually immune to punishment.

If Bill Clinton's lie about personal oral sex was impeachable, George W. Bush's crescendo of public-be-damned conduct long ago qualified him for the dock.

But -- hah! -- this slick White House plans ahead. Their patriotism challenged by the White House, Washington lawmakers panicked and submitted to Bush, making them partners to his police state strategies.

His defense of the wiretapping was part of the scheme. A few members of Congress were briefed secretly. They were thus muzzled from talking. This, the president claims, constitutes congressional approval.

For more "legal" cover, Bush got an okay from his lawyers -- the same lawyers who approved a preemptive attack on Iraq, suggested ignoring Geneva Convention rules of conduct, authorized detention for suspects without charges indefinitely, endorsed kidnapping and torturing suspects.

Since Bush didn't seek warrants from a FISA judge, there's no record of who was wiretapped. So, we must trust the president's (ahem!) honesty that only terrorism suspects were wiretapped, not critics or news reporters that've been branded by Bush henchmen as aiding the enemy.

Bugs were so successful, the president informs us, an Ohio truck driver was arrested for discussing on the phone blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge. Hmmm. Wonder if little green men were involved?

Success at the Pentagon, too: it collected data on a Florida Quaker group's peace meetings.

The most shameful cowering came from The New York Times, which stifled the story for a year at the White House's demand. The newspaper that took on Nixon in the historic Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers showdown was spooked again by Bush disinformation: it earlier bought reporter Judith Miller's humiliating Alice in Wonderland stories about nonexistent Iraqi doomsday weapons.

Using claims of religious piety and spreading fear that phantom barbarians will terrorize Americans, Bush uses the tool of all tyrants in nibbling at freedoms while ignoring laws.

He's here to protect us.

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