Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Year & Wiretaps

With the dawn of 2006, I will do my best to use this blog to more comprehensively spotlight the important issues. More importantly, I want to look at the issues that are being under-reported, or deliberately ignored, by the American media. It is why there will be more links to international sites, which seem to cover American stories better than we do at home.

As we ring in the new year, the Bush wiretapping story seems to be the most important issue we face as a country. Using the excuse of war, Bush seems intent to toss away the sort of civil liberties we are allegedly fighting and dying in Iraq for. Considering the War on Terror will never be completely won (how does one gauge when we have eradicated every terrorist on the planet), what the GOP is seeking to do is compromise our civil liberties permanently. Are media outlets actively conveying this message?

2 stories today were rather interesting and revealing.

First, the public editor of the New York Times, Byron Calame, has a fascinating rebuke of the paper's executive editor and publisher. Calame reveals in print that both William Keller and Arthur Sulzberger Jr. have refused to respond to inquiries on the Times' decision to withhold the wiretap story for a year.

It is rare to see this type of open challenge of one's bosses in print, let alone a story this damaging in nature.

I am encouraged that we are able to see the internal dissent face the light of day so that we can formulate our own conclusions on the matter.

Second, John W. Dean, a man who observed Nixon's failings from the inside, writes a valuable essay at that compares Bush to Nixon. The similarities are rather scary and the read is worthwhile.

One of the more interesting theories put forth by Dean was that the entire wiretap episode was a conscious decision by Cheney to re-assert executive authority.

Dean writes:

"The USA Patriot Act passed with overwhelming support. So why didn't the President simply ask Congress for the authority he thought he needed?

"The answer seems to be, quite simply, that Vice President Dick Cheney has never recovered from being President Ford's chief of staff when Congress placed checks on the presidency. And Cheney wanted to make the point that he thought it was within a president's power to ignore Congress' laws relating to the exercise of executive power. Bush has gone along with all such Cheney plans."

The result of this is a presidency that has no checks-and-balances. If this assault on civil liberties is allowed, how much longer before monitoring of terrorists is joined by monitoring of one's political enemies? And, who's to say that this has not already begun?

Dean concludes:

"In acting here without Congressional approval, Bush has underlined that his Presidency is unchecked - in his and his attorneys' view, utterly beyond the law. Now that he has turned the truly awesome powers of the NSA on Americans, what asserted powers will Bush use next? And when - if ever - will we - and Congress -- discover that he is using them? "

That, my friends, is the point. Is that the democracy this nation was founded upon?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

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