Friday, December 16, 2005

Spying On America

The revelation that Bush authorised the NSA to conduct some very dodgy spying on home soil, along with today's blocking of the Patriot Act's extension by Senators with reservations about infringements of civil liberties (DUH!), have rather overshadowed the big news of the Iraqi elections. A quick glance at today's will show just how many bloggers feel the need to make a statement on these linked items of news, but the main theme seems to have centered on the first story.

  • Shakespeares Sister says Bush's order was unlawful and most of the lefty pundits would agree with her. Hilzoy, writing for The Washington Monthly certainly does - and thinks it violates the Fourth Amendment too.

  • Even rightwingers with a knowledge of the law say what Bush did was dodgy. Orrin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy and Glenn Reynolds both admit to being perturbed in the extreme. Kerr thinks the constitution basis for warrantless taps is "murky".

  • As usual the sycophantic extreme right are full of it. Some think the timing of the New York Times report that broke the story was a deliberate liberal conspiracy to take the nation's attention away from Iraq - or influence the Patriot Act vote. They all follow the Powerline and Malkin lead and think the entire staff of the NYT and the CIA should be arrested for treason (and probably tortured).

    Let's face it - if the news broke that Bush ate infants these people would immediately post recipes for BBQ Baby-ribs and swear they had been eating it for years!

  • Possibly America's (sole?) sanest Republican, Jon Henke at QandO, puts it plain for the dimwits of the extreme Right.
    How do free societies become unfree societies? One step at a time...Naturally, many people will jump to defend the administration, pointing out that, "you know, terrorists and evildoers and national security and what're you, some kind of traitor who wants another 9/11?" They'll continue making that argument until, say, Hillary Clinton ascends to the White House and it occurs to them that, hey, maybe giving the Executive Branch near-unlimited power to reinterpret and/or flaunt the laws might not be such a great idea after all.
    Nicely put, Jon.

    My own reaction to the NSA spying on home soil is "Quelle suprise!". Maybe it's coming from Britain, where the intelligence agencies do their spying thing pretty much away from meaningful oversight, that does it. Sure, there are laws about warrants and stuff but warrants get rubber-stamped if a national intelligence agency is asking for them. Even if they don't bother getting a warrant, how often do we the sheepul actually find that bothersome fact out? Plus, we all know Bush has been watching Sly Stallone in "Judge Dredd" and proclaimed to his legal eagles "I am The Law! Now prove it!" And even once they get caught being naughty, what exactly are we supposed to do about it? Who has the power to arrest a sitting President for breaking the law? Or his cabinet or intelligence agency bigwigs? Who is ever going to find out the names of the individuals who allegedly actually did the taps that broke the law so that they can be questioned or charged? No-one. Can anyone stop this kind of chit happening? Nope. Welcome to the Brave New World. Its depressing as hell but life goes on.

    But at least halting the march of the Patriot Act stops it getting worse with greater ease.

    Oh, Drudge says the timing of the NYT report was all about that great American value so beloved of Republicans - money! So that's the tinfoil-wrapped Malkinites looking dumb again. The article appears to have been timed to coincide with a book launch. That, of course, will piss of liberals who think the NYT was carrying water for an illegal administration by delaying the reports publication by a year.

    And Bush won't comment, even to shocked lawmakers like Arlen Spector, except to don his Judge Dredd helmet and yell "I am The Law!"
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