Sunday, December 25, 2005

Editorial: Bully Boy Spying and Lying But The Press Wants To play "Some Say"

George Bush and the other purveyors of pain can take a day off from spying on Americans without due process to celebrate the holidays with their families. Dick "the Grinch" Cheney made a "surprise" visit to Iraq the other day. His black heart feels no pain for the tragic loss of life that his greed has caused. How dare he show his face in a country which is destroyed by his insatiable quest for black gold and his obscene lust for profits for his company Halliburton and the other war profiteers?
The pain that these people have caused the world is inestimable. The people of the world want an accounting of the pain and for the people who seem to be getting off Scott free to be brought to some kind of justice for the damage they have wrought on humanity.

The above is from Cindy Sheehan's "Language of the Heart" (BuzzFlash). As 2005 draws to a close, it seems appropriate to note the voice that touched off the summer of portest that woke up the country. The invasion/occupation continues. Both in Iraq and in the oval office.

But we can now talk about bringing the troops home now (even as the mainstream media snickers at the idea -- how many publishers of newspapers have sons and daughters or grandsons and daughters serving in Iraq?). We're also hearing "impeachment" pop up quite a bit.

Most of all, we're hearing about the government spying on citizens.

Apparently, it's okay to spy on activists, for the Pentagon to. Which is why news of that (or news of the NYCPD spying on activists) is a one day story.

The mainstream press has demonstrated a little more interest in the issue of the NSA spying on citizens.

If Bully Boy's last name was "Clinton," he'd be simmering in hot water about to boil. Instead, reporters who do cover the story seem to struggle real hard to find the silver lining of "balance" that can raise the reasonable doubt that the actions of the NSA (ordered by the Bully Boy) were not a crime. (In fact they were a high crime.)

The commander-in-chief caveat gets walked around the block a lot. It's so hard for some to grasp that the Constitution does not make a president the commander-in-chief of the general population. Commander-in-chief of the military, yes. Not commander-in-chief of non-military Americans. Unless the mainstream press is attempting to argue that we've traded a democracy for a military junta, it's a point they should have absorbed some time ago.

They also seem to really struggle trying to attempt to figure out why FISA was created in the first place. FISA is the secret court that can issue warrents for wiretaps, the court that Bully Boy elected not to utilize when he attempted a power grab that spat on the very notion of checks and balances.

We frequently feel as though we run a remidial school for the mainstream press here so let's once again open our books (or web pages) and let's note Democracy Now!'s "An Impeachable Offense? Bush Admits Authorizing NSA to Eavesdrop on Americans Without Court Approval:"

JAMES BAMFORD: Well, before I get into that, just one other comment on what we just have been talking about. When the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was created in 1978, one of the things that the Attorney General at the time, Griffin Bell, said -- he testified before the intelligence committee, and he said that the current bill recognizes no inherent power of the President to conduct electronic surveillance. He said, 'This bill specifically states that the procedures in the bill are the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted.' In other words, what the President is saying is that he has these inherent powers to conduct electronic surveillance, but the whole reason for creating this act, according to the Attorney General at the time, was to prevent the President from using any inherent powers and to use exclusively this act.

Now that was a long quote for those with short attention spans. And surely "reporters" who've spent the last few years being spoonfed probably haven't developed the skills to analyze. So let's walk you through that slowly. Griffin Bell was the Attorney General of the United States of America. Under President Jimmy Carter. At the time that the FISA courts were being created. When Congress was considering the bill that would create the FISA courts, ATTORNEY GENERAL Bell testified that the bill did not create a new power for a president.
So one of Bully Boy's many talking points can be rejected now.

Another fun talking point is to argue that apparent minimal briefings to a small number of members serving in the Congress implies Congressional consent. That talking point is laughable on its face. Congressional consent is not something that's granted lightly nor something that should take place away from the public eye.

Furthermore, note this:

Daschle: Bush Administration Was Denied Spy Authority In Washington, former Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle has disclosed previously unknown details that challenge the Bush administration's claim it has legal authority to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals in the US. The White House says the authority was implicitly granted in the joint Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force passed shortly after 9/11. But in today's Washington Post, Daschle claims the Bush administration requested, but was denied, the authority it now claims it was granted.
Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle: "Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused."

Consent was not granted by Congress. Daschle states that the administration attempted to carve out those powers but was rebuffed.

Some argue that the Bully Boy doesn't have to answer to Congress at all. One talking point is that he notified them (some, in a minimal manner) and that's all he needed to do. Again, is this a democracy or a military junta?

If it's a democracy, we have rules both for the governed and for those doing the governing.

Now they haven't been applied for the bulk of Bully Boy's tenure but we're talking about a very serious issue. To cover it, the mainstream press may need to leave their "Bully Boy says" versus "some critics argue" stance. Just as if they witnessed a shooting, they'd be unlikely to report, "the accused states that he did not shoot the person but some witnesses argue that he did. We'll leave you with both arguments and won't venture to state the obvious facts."

2005 has been a wild ride. The fatigue and depression following election 2004 lifted slowly, but it did lift. Americans are taking issues quite a bit more seriously than the mainstream press. Maybe it's a desire to start those vacations that won't end until after New Year's Eve? Maybe it's just a tendency to want to have fun, fun, fun during this seasonal time?

But the fact is Americans were spied on by their government. First, Bully Boy says only if one end of the call was international. Now it turns out that Bully Boy's claim was yet another lie. The spying took place without utilizing the court in place to grant permission -- the court created for that very reason. This is a power grab that would leave Richard Nixon gasping in awe at the sheer audacity of the move. So perhaps it's finally time for the mainstream press to attempt reporting and not mere stenography?

As Kat noted at the end of a recent music commentary, "Truth to power in 2006."

[This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jess and Jim, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, and Ruth of Ruth's Morning Edition Report.]
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