Assumption of guilt
The point is obvious, but it needs to be made: The problem with illegal NSA wiretapping is not the fact that wiretapping is taking place. Wingnuts and Kool-Aid drinkers have been repeatedly trying to make it sound like Democrats, liberals, and left-wingers are objecting to the simple fact that the NSA is listening in on anybody, that opposition to the illegal surveillance of US citizens is opposition to surveillance of terrorists. This is a straw-man argument, but it’s being deployed in order to paint the political Left as being “soft on national security” at best, outright treasonous (”rooting for the terrorists”) at worst.
I suggest you read Digby discussing this issue today.
This is an issue that cuts across all the abuses of power in the GWOT, from rendition to torture to illegal wiretapping. What constitutes a suspected terrorist? Without due process how do we know that innocent people aren’t being accused? There is no review. There is no oversight. We are asked not only to take the word of the president that he is using these extra-legal powers judiciously, we are asked to believe that all the people he’s judiciously using these powers against are guilty.
Again and again, the Kool-Aid drinkers are continuing to beg the question, implying that being suspected of terrorist activities or affiliations is prima facie evidence of guilt. The Bush administration is continuing to set frightening new precedents, and I’m still constantly amazed to see self-professed “conservatives” not just accepting this, but openly welcoming it.
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January 9th, 2006 @ 22:11
General Hayden, though appointed as DIRNSA by Clinton, was the perfect man for the cabal surrounding Bush. He’s right in there now serving as Negroponte’s second. His post and his willingness to take the fall is what enabled the administration to engage in their illegal activity.
The argument has been tepidly advanced that SIGINT professionals suggested and then implemented the program, thus allowing an “out” for the White House. Bush can “plausibly” deny that his actions are nothing more than direct executive action to a national security need articulated by the nation’s experts. It is all much more incestuous than that however. This is all yet to come out.
It’s pretty clever actually, violating the law becomes not only a requirement but a solemn duty. What a crock of shit!
NSA has violated its own charter by fishing in the fertile waters of domestic packet switching stations (the biggest violation and the one least likely to “translate” into good news copy). A real professional–someone “read on” to the program leaked the news because they obviously recognized its disastrous implications to our future security. This is going to hurt. Those I’ve known at NSA are serious, dedicated experts who think in terms of threat assessment almost as second nature. The reforms that follow in the wake of this whole mess may mean a complete overhaul. USSID (US Signal Intelligence Directive) 18 specifically makes it illegal to do EXACTLY what Bush has done here. And the penalties are stiff. During my own time at Ft. Meade the directive itself was classified and required EVERY PERSON’S signature who was involved in either collection, analysis, or reporting. With a quick google search anyone can now read major portions of it. It has clearly been violated by our president and unless he loads the courts with willing subversives, he’ll eventually be sanctioned. I hope he goes to jail personally as unlikely as that may seem. Even the courts may find it hard to provide the necessary assist though–it really is clear cut. Maybe his best hope is to maintain Republican power in the legislature and keep any real investigation from ever taking place. The alternative is a constitutional crisis. I really believe that the only way such a leak could have occurred is if those involved recognized more unchecked abuses than as yet have found the light of day and felt it their duty to blow the whistle (think political payback and “enemy lists that include members of congress and the judiciary). It might be instructive to look back over the maneuverings of this adminstration in the past few years through this new prism.
The next three years will be one long chain of ass-covering. That’s for sure.