Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Where it all (could) lead to..........

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."--Benjamin Franklin

Here we go again! All the usual suspects are present. On the one side are the President and his supporters spouting the line that they had to do this, that we live in a new era and the need is too great to observe the normal legal propriety.....and oh by the way, just wait till we find the little bastard that leaked this.....

Bush mounted a vigorous defense of his order authorizing warrantless eavesdropping on overseas telephone calls and e-mail of U.S. citizens with suspected ties to terrorists. He contended that his "obligation to protect you" against attack justified a circumvention of the traditional process in a fast-moving, high-tech battle with a shadowy enemy.

"This is a different era, a different war," the president said at a year-end news conference in the East Room. "People are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this . . . requires quick action." ........ While generally relaxed and sometimes joking, Bush grew testy when asked if he is presiding over the expansion of "unchecked power" by the executive branch. "To say 'unchecked power' basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject," he responded sharply, waving his finger. Asked what limits he sees on a president's power in a time of war, Bush said a few key congressional leaders were briefed on the domestic spying program and his administration reviews its own actions periodically. "I just described limits on this particular program," he said. "That's what's important for the American people to understand. I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time safeguarding the civil liberties of the country."

On the other side are the civil libertarians, or so they claim. If however, there were a democratic president at the podium they would be loudly supporting him and in my opinion Hillary Clinton would be just as likely to tap phone lines as George Bush is...(especially her husband's....). However they make some great points about the potential implications of this (ab)use of presidential power:

Voicing "grave doubts" over the legality of the National Security Agency program, Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he will conduct hearings next month on the issue. To rebut suggestions of congressional acquiescence, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) released a handwritten letter he secretly sent Vice President Cheney in July 2003 objecting to the program.

The dispute further fueled the debate over the USA Patriot Act, the measure bolstering the powers of law enforcement agencies that was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Senate yesterday again failed to muster the votes to end Democrat-led efforts to block legislation renewing the law, which expires Dec. 31. Bush angrily branded the filibuster "inexcusable" three times at his news conference but refused to accept a temporary extension.

I think that George Bush truly believes that he is acting in the best interests of the American people and that the taps will only be limited to acting against terrorist subjects and not folks (like me) who want to arrange a tryst with my big breasted neighbor. I also can assume given his management style, that he is not actively involved in choosing the targets of the surveillance, so what his minions choose to do is an important question.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions they say, and however well intentioned the President's motives are, this course of action is full of peril. I do not know who is right here, but I do know that the very fact that we are accepting of this type of behavior means that we are strarting down the slippery slope to ....who knows where.

One potential destination was documented about 15 years ago in Parameters, the magazine of the Army War College. I thought about that article this weekend when the news first broke. I read it in 1992, when seeking solace while working for a psychopath, I took to spending long lunch hours over at the Armed Forces Staff College library. The article is by Charles Dunlap and postures how a military coup of the United States could occur.

Go here to read about The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.

Nonsense you say? Read the article closely and you will see that many of Mr Dunlap's suggestions have come true in a fashion, particularly the acceptance of using the military for all kinds of non military, non traditional missions. His comments on the growing isolation of the service culture from American society in general hit home now, as well. For the character of General Brutus, simply substitute the name Clark ( Wesley or Vern, does not really matter which) and see if a chill does not run down your spine.

Bush may mean well, but what about the next guy... or God forbid, his own Vice President?


P.S. If you don't like my view, Professor Bainbridge offers some other reasons why this type of domestic surveillance is a really bad thing.....


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