Friday, December 16, 2005

Who Spies?

It appears that the Bushbucker-in-Chief at least condoned, and may have ordered, the torture of prisoners taken during the "war on terrior," thereby contravening international agreements, common human decency, and probably a few laws along the way. (Torture: The Road to Abu Ghraib and Beyond, edited by Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of New York University's Center on Law and Security, reprints many of the Bushies' documents promoting "enhanced interrogation" and redefining torture.) Bushy and Cheney certainly fought the McCain-sponsored bill banning torture.

Now, it appears that the Bushbucker-in-Chief also approved extensive, probably illegal eavesdropping by the ultrasecret National Securiy Agency on electronic and telephonic communications by Americans. That revelation by the James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times comes hard on the heels of an NBC investigative report on Department of Defense spying on antiwar activists. The FBI is doing it, too, and doubtless more. Dan Eggen of the Washington Post looks at some of the legal issues in the NSA case.

The Bushbucker-in-Chief's contempt for the Constitution and laws of the land is as great as his disregard for international treaties and basic human rights. Revealing its true nature, Congress, which rose to new heights of moral outrage in impeaching Bubba for receiving blow jobs and using his cigar as a dildo, can't be bothered to pursue open violations of the law and Bushy's oath of office, presumably because a majority of the Republican majority cares only about power and privilege. The Republicans of conscience--that might be an oxymoron--in the Congress should remember that it was the Democrats, then in control of Congress, who challenged LBJ on Vietnam. Certainly, John McCain held firm on torture and Republicans in the Senate joined in blocking renewal of the Patriot Act, but they have more to do.

The question here is why the New York Times withheld publication of the NSA spy story for a year. Ostensibly, the editors--and who else, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher?--were honoring the request of the Bushies, who claimed the revelation would harm national security. Think about this: As Ken Auletta points out in his account of the Judith Miller affair in the December 19 New Yorker, Sulzberger saw the fight over Miller's source as his Pentagon Papers--his father having fought to the Supreme Court for the right to publish those secret papers that exposed many of the lies of Vietnam. As everyone knows, Miller was defending a source who had attempted to damage the wife of a man who had exposed a lie the Bushies had used in justifying their war against Iraq, and she ultimately talked and talked.

But the Pentagon Papers were not only about freedom of the press but also the right of the people to know what their government is doing and the obligation of the press to tell them. So while Sulzberger, Jr., was propping up a sound principle with a bogus support--and then watching it collapse--he and his paper were ignoring the lessons of the Pentagon Papers. They sat on evidence of violation of the law by the president for at least a year, buying the argument, which was used in attempts to suppress the Pentagon Papers, that publishing the story would damage "national security." Right. The spying, the lies, the torture, the corruption, the disregard for the Constitution, international agreements, and human rights--they threaten the nation.

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