Thursday, August 09, 2007

Measuring Our Democratic Health: The Canary Just Died

Our response to FISA tells the whole story.

It was long held that if the democrats came to power, that they would act to provide the balance that Congress needed to protect the interests of the people.

Now, we know that isn’t so.

We have placed our bets on the wrong horse so to speak. And,sadly, we are on the losing side, the side that has made it possible for us to lose the protections that differentiated this country from others; that made America the destination for all people seeking freedom and democracy….

Figuratively and literally, the facts are that there is no brake on a president out of control, a man who longs for power to control his country absolutely.

The argument has gone on back and forth. The president believes rather capriciously and with no basis in the law that he has the right to arbitrarily pick names out of a hat to eavesdrop on. It is as if he never heard of the Bill of Rights. To accommodate his expansion of powers, a special court was even set up to facilitate his approvals of surveillance and wire-tapping.

But it turned out that that wasn’t even enough.

The president wanted the ability to do as he liked with FISA, eliminating the requirement that he needed the Court’s approval to conduct eavesdropping in clear violation of the law.

The House had come up with an improved version of the Bill but the White House used the court’s ruling to grasp more power.

The Times suggested today that “the new law all but eviscerates the 1978 law.”

This new bill gives the president authority to virtually do what he wants on eavesdropping as long as the president is “reasonably sure” that one of the callers is overseas.

16 Democratic members of the Senate voted for this bill.

41 Democratic members of the House voted for this bill.


To save their own necks come election time and to avoid the wraith of the republican party that might accuse them of being soft on terrorism.

This is an outrage that democrats are more concerned with saving their skin then they are on protecting democracy and saving the Constitution.

As the Times points out, why at this stage of the game post 9/11 we are still blindly looking for needles in the haystack. In six years, we would have thought that with all of the billions of dollars spent on security that we would know who all the questionable players are….

That has been shown to be clearly not the case.

The president is basically commercially fishing by dragging the nets along the bottom capturing the good along with the presumed bad.

It is my understanding that using the present technology, NSA cannot discriminate in how it picks out targeted phone calls inasmuch as it is a data mining process that simply moves conversations over telephone lines dialing into a specific area code, etc. into the computers of NSA for scrutiny….

We are not talking about watching specific numbers that historically converse with people of questionable backgrounds, this is the equivalent of bottom fishing where there are no restraints…

But the point here is that under this system, we may all be victims…

It also proves that the thirty or so agencies charged with our protection are seriously out of step with the realities of today and that little or no progress has been made in identifying the true culprits over the last six years!...

This despite spending of hundreds of billions of dollars for that purpose.

We should at the very least demand an accounting of how and where our money was spent and whether it was the best possible investment for so few results..

Data mining is the last place we should be when the terrorists have made clear their intentions. We should at this time be following up on known operatives; not data mining for clues.

Nevertheless, the White House contains to play its fear card over and over again and they seem to be winning in a game where the only losers are us.

It is a sad day for democracy when this kind of maneuvering that violates our most valued documents is allowed to stand and democrats sign away their most precious rights.

Truly, the leadership has made a mockery of government only to be rubber stamped by a compliant congress and a pitiful assemblage of democrats who claim to stand up for the public good.

Civil Rights and the Bill of Rights have been mortally wounded.

It is nearing the time to start to build a new party of people that hews to original democratic principles, a party made of those willing to stand for what they believe.

And for those so inclined, there is no motivation better than FISA.

Les Aaron
The Armchair Curmudgeon

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