For those addicted to election coverage good times. For the rest of us there’s digging for stories. This one got past me and I’m betting I’m not the only one, Halting Illegal Spying on Americans
During an astounding press conference on February 28, 2008, President Bush was jarred by the veteran and habitually-reserved CBS correspondent, Bill Plante, who asked point blank: “I know it’s unintended to spy on Americans, but in the collection process information about everybody gets swept up and then it gets sorted. So if Americans don’t have any recourse, are you just telling them when it comes to their privacy to suck it up?”
Stunned by the question, Bush delivered a condescending non-sequiter: “I wouldn’t put it that way, if I were you – in public. You’ve been around long enough.” (The President never disputed Plante’s premise that everyone’s information is vacuumed up by the government.)
Visibly angry, the President blamed everything on his favorite target – trial lawyers: “You cannot expect phone companies to participate if they feel like they’re going to be sued… class-action plaintiffs attorneys, you know – I don’t want to try to get inside their head; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train – are trying to sue these companies. It’s unfair. It is patently unfair.”
Always willing to go to the mat to defend helpless phone giants, President Bush neglected to mention that the original lawsuits were brought by public interest lawyers like us and the ACLU, not class-action lawyers. This is only one of a series of untruths told by the Bush Administration about the largest domestic spying program in American history. Not least, as reported in this paper in January, the Bush administration took steps to monitor the calls of American citizens before 9/11, not after, as the administration has repeatedly asserted.
Even after the election in 2004 as much as I would have liked to see Bush impeached I bought into the theory that maybe it was best for Democrats to concentrate on its agenda of reform. Now it looks like the worse thing that Congress has done the last three years is not move toward drafting articles of impeachment. Remember the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. The Supreme Court decided that the President in time of war ( and Korea was certainly a more urgent conflict then Iraq) did not have unlimited powers of authority. Bush at least tacitly seized telecom facilities beginning before 9-11 to begin domestic spying. For Congress not to act decisively now is to allow the real possibility of legal precedent where the Supreme Court notes in a future case that since Congress did not act there was an implied view that under the circumstances as the president saw them, even if very subjectively that Congress and any plaintiffs have little ground to stand on to stop a repetition of the same actions by another president short of specific legislation to prevent such actions. Which in turn must be Constitutional. As we’ve seen presidents are capable of over reaction and rather then having a Congress that insists on taking its proper roll in reigning in presidential over reach we have a Congress that is afraid of being called weak on national security.
Has Iraq been worth it – Iraq’s Three Civil Wars
So, what are the three wars? There’s a war for Basra in the deep south. This is a port city on the Shatt al-Arab. It’s the body of water where the Tigris and the Euphrates come together, and they flow together, then out to the Persian Gulf. In the old days, it was a major port, Al Basrah, because the ships could come up the Shatt al-Arab from the Persian Gulf. Now they’ll stop instead at a smaller port named Umm Qasr near to Basra, and this is how you get things in and out of Iraq.
[ ]…Then, there’s a war for Baghdad. This is the one that Americans tend to know about because the U.S. troops are in Baghdad, and so it’s being fought all around our guys, and we are drawn into it from time to time. The American public, when it thinks about this war, mainly thinks about attacks on U.S. troops, which are part of that war because the U.S. troops were seen by the Sunni Arabs as adjuncts to the Shiite paramilitaries, and they have really functioned that way. Most American observers of Iraq wouldn’t say that the U.S. is an enabler of the Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps paramilitaries of these Shiite fundamentalist parties, but you could make the case that, functionally speaking, that’s how it’s worked out. The U.S. has mainly taken on the remnants of the Ba’ath party, the Salafi jihadis, and other Sunni groups, and has tried to disarm them, tried to kill them, and has opened a space for the Shiite paramilitaries to claim territory and engage in ethnic cleansing and gain territory and power.
[ ]…And finally, as if all that weren’t enough, there is a war in the north for control of Kirkuk, which used to be called by Saddam “Ta’mim Province”. Kirkuk Province has the city of Kirkuk in it and very productive oil fields, in the old days at least. Kirkuk is not part of the Kurdistan Regional Authority, which was created by melding three northern provinces together into a super province; however, the Kurdistan Regional Authority wishes to annex Kirkuk to the authority.
If war is ever just and I tend to think there are Just Wars there has to be some defining criteria. Is this war necessary to defend the nation, will it save more lives then it takes. Unlike WW II which the Right loves to use for an analogy much to their detriment in debating points, Saddam was a thug, but as we saw in the first few weeks in Iraq the military that Bill Clinton left for George Bush was far too well equipped and trained for the “Elite Republican Guard” to put up much of a battle with. Unlike Nazi Germany that in its time had one of the most formidable military machines ever amassed in Europe and had the support of the majority of the German people. Saddam had no Navy, a barely existent Air Force and half the population hated him. He wasn’t more then he appeared, a despot that the CIA helped bring to power was a domestic menace more then an international one. So he was removed. Not a sound moral choice given that if Saddam’s Iraq was one kind of hell and it was replaced with one of the neocon’s making. Bush used American lives like unearned equity or maybe more like money he got from dad and fettered away so that he could take a relatively stable country run by a thug and turn it into a front for three civil wars. No wonder that College Republicans aren’t falling all over themselves to join in the fight that Bush and Cheney keep saying is the “front on the war on terror”. Its not a front of a moral war to protect America, its a debacle that has come to define Republican visions of national security, more about bedbugs then real threats. If it were not for all the deaths, the wounds, the maimed veterans and the Iraqi refugees it would be a mildly funny Hollywood satire like Wag The Dog.
There never was a good war or a bad peace. ~ Benjamin Franklin