The more I see of how Bushco operates (and barring impeachment, we have three years left of this – as always, THANK YOU RED STATE VOTERS), the more I’m reminded of the landmark TV series “The Prisoner,” starring Patrick McGoohan (backgrounder here). It was for its time, and remains, a truly surreal, thought-provoking series that makes you question any sort of authority whatsoever and yourself as well a bit, as far as I was concerned. There’s a lot more that I could say about it, but instead, I’ll just link to Bruce Clark’s great fan club site called “Six Of One” if you want to learn more (I guess Dubya and Cheney reside in “The Green Dome” where No. 2 changed every week in the T.V. series, with Congress serving the usually pliant role of the late Angelo Muscat as the silent, diminutive butler).
Remember that Bush proclaimed himself as “the CEO president” when he was originally installed into the job by the Supreme Court (I must have been asleep in civics class the day they discussed that function of our government, because somehow I’m not sure that ever was intended by our founding fathers). As far as I’m concerned, Bush has truly made good on that promise. I mention that because “The Prisoner,” in my experience, perfectly captures all of the loathing, paranoia, and dread both of corporate America as a whole as well as the administration of George W. Bush (and as we’ve already seen, this administration is SO GRACIOUS when it comes to considering other points of view besides their own, aren’t they?).
To further examine this, we should consider The Patriot Act as a logical extension of this administration’s wish to intrude into as many areas of our lives as it possibly can, with the professed, Orwellian goal of somehow “making us free.” Yes, I know Bush supporters would counter that no terrorist attacks have occurred on our soil since 9/11 and Dubya’s “Big Brother” policies are the reason why, and of course I would immediately refute that.
My personal belief is that nothing has happened yet because the enemies who profess to hate us the most are tied up in Iraq and elsewhere in that area, and though they continue to have a presence in this country and elsewhere, they need coordination from overseas which is difficult for them right now (not discounting the possibility of something happening, just the immediate likelihood). Also, I will acknowledge that there is probably a hell of a lot of fine work going on right now by agents in the FBI and the CIA to prevent future attacks that we can’t know about now or maybe ever, but I don’t give Bush credit for that any more than I would give it to Clinton. Besides, as part of Dubya’s whole “fear and smear” show during the ’04 presidential campaign against John Kerry, he said that he could protect us and the other guy couldn’t, and Hurricane Katrina laid that lie bare for the entire world to see.
Now, as an extension of the Patriot Act (or maybe with the Patriot Act providing cover), we of course now have the revelations of Dubya’s domestic spying. This is in conflict with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; also, many others, including Atrios, have pointed out by now that Dubya has gone on record as stating that he would not conduct domestic spying without a court order, to wit (excerpted from this link):
…Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.Of course, we all know now that he was lying (which, as far as I’m concerned, is an impeachable offense all by itself), conducting his spying through the National Security Agency, which has much looser guidelines for its activity than the FBI or the CIA (there’s a reason why it’s commonly referred to as, “No Such Agency”). Dubya was simply trying to do something in as expedient a manner for him as possible, in concert with his belief of his imperial presidency, as opposed to a legally correct manner.
And now, as we must, we come to the response from Wingnuttia. Here is the latest bit of supposed wisdom from right-wing gurus Glenn Reynolds and Ann Althouse on this subject as noted by the Crooked Timber site (inevitable hat tip to Atrios).
As CT noted so well, it is plainly obvious (to CT, me, and a good many others, I would suspect), that the Plame leak compromised national security and violated a statute prohibiting such behavior (if not, why would Patrick Fitzgerald continue to investigate it?). Bush’s NSA spying was a comparable violation in a way; the revelation of that activity was not.
Also, Atrios and The Daily Kos have been challenging the right-wing trolls at their sites to step up and offer a valid explanation as to how Bush’s domestic spying actually makes us safer, and thus far, none have done it yet (not surprising).
Update 1/7: Glenn Greenwald (obligatory hat tip to Atrios) provides more evidence of "full-mooner" ignorance on this (I believe Hinderaker is the proprietor of Powerline, named "Blog Of The Year" by Time Magazine...I actually find that to be amusing).
In addition to the illegality of Bush’s activity, another problem is that skirting the law in this way hurts our ability to prosecute those who are truly a threat to this country (I referred to the whole circus with Jose Padilla previously, as well as the fact that we have neither caught nor prosecuted Osama bin Laden – assuming he is still alive – and have not obtained convictions for anyone else associated with the 9/11 attacks). If we were putting people away with Bush’s methods, then I would have given him something of the benefit of the doubt, to be honest (I also have a feeling that Gonzales and the DOJ aren’t doing a good job of sharing information overseas to apprehend these people, but I can’t prove that yet – it also concerns me that recent court rulings have not supported Bushco’s tactics). However, it is plain that we aren’t convicting anyone, which to me is a clear indicator that something is wrong.
But of course, Dubya remains unconvinced, claiming (as noted in USA Today on 12/20) that he, “wants Senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why those cities are safer” (he was piqued, see, over the Senate filibuster of the Patriot Act, which ended up being extended for only one month). Of course, how coincidental is it that those senators just happen to be Democrats (discounting Repug John Ensign of Nevada)?
Well, I don’t know about Dubya, but apparently, Mike (“City Of Louisiana”) Chertoff doesn’t consider Las Vegas to be that high of a priority (go get 'em, Harry!).
OK, I think we’ve pretty much looked at the present status quo on this matter as much as we can. But what of the future?
I came across this article (more like a thesis, really) written by Richard Clarke for The Atlantic about a year ago (we know who Clarke is, of course….terrorism czar for four presidents, Dubya ignored him prior to 9/11, the only one who has shown any contrition for what happened, etc.). He theorizes a ten-year battle with terrorism, and I have a feeling that that is a conservative estimate.
It took me awhile to get through this, but the read was worth it. I think you will recognize some scenarios that he concocts here (such as the controversy over trying to weaken the Posse-Comitatus Act which we faced a few months ago).
Clarke’s detailed knowledge as shown here absolutely took my breath away. What does it say that an individual with this kind of analytical ability was pretty much driven from this administration with the right-wing echo chamber trying to discredit him every step of the way?
As far as I’m concerned, if Bush were REALLY trying to make us safer, he would operate within the limits of the law to let other countries know that we’re serious about working with them to fight this scourge. Or would doing that indicated that “the terrorists have already won”?
Just remember this adage from “The Prisoner,” and everything Dubya does makes sense:
“Questions are a burden to others, and answers are a burden to oneself.”
That describes the modus operandi of Bushco perfectly.
Be seeing you.
(By the way, as you can see, the turf battles over this are playing out at this moment - good for John Conyers for trying to get to the bottom of this garbage.)
(Also, this is the next logical step in our Orwellian nightmare.)