Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back to normal

I must be feeling better; I woke up this morning with plenty of reasons to kvetch about. The first one that comes to mind is those hideous telephone companies (Bell South, AT&T and Verizon) that allowed the government to get private citizens' phone call records, tens of millions of them, including Verizon, a company in which I have eternally losing shares, plus a cell phone contract. I am not a happy camper about this, Verizon people, and I'm going to write you a scathing letter. Maybe. (Kudos to Qwest, the only company that refused to comply).
There are people who spend many hours of their lives writing complaint letters. I'm one of them, but only in my mind. I'm always composing letters to Mayor Bloomberg, our hapless NY senators, Bush (I've actually written to him asking him to step down for the good of the nation), the NY Taxi and Limo Commission, the horrible national airlines, etc. Very few of my indignant compositions ever make it to the page or the email form, but I'm seriously thinking of expressing my huge dissatisfaction with Verizon. Just don't hold your breath.

It comes as no surprise that the Son of Satan himself, Dick Cheney:

In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any warrantless eavesdropping, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. Details have not emerged publicly of how the director of the agency at the time, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, designed the program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the White House on its limits.

But if this is not enough to make the hairs on the back of your head spike up, you will be relieved to know that, according to the NYT:

An investigation by the Justice Department ethics office into the conduct of department lawyers who approved the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program has been closed because investigators were denied security clearances, according to a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday.

The head of the department's Office of Professional Responsibility, H. Marshall Jarrett, wrote in the letter to Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, Democrat of New York, that "we have been unable to make meaningful progress in our investigation because O.P.R. has been denied security clearances for access to information about the N.S.A. program."

Mr. Jarrett said his office had requested clearances since January, when it began an investigation, and was told on Tuesday that they had been denied. "Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation," the letter said.

Mr. Hinchey said the denial of clearances was "hard to believe" and compounded what he called a violation of the law by the program itself, which eavesdrops without court warrants on people in the United States suspected of ties to Al Qaeda.

Now, before I am accused of being a bleeding heart liberal living in Fantasyland, let me point out that I want those Al Qaeda bastards pulverized and ground to a fine dust as much as anybody else, but is it too much to ask for the government to conduct their fruitless, incompetent fight against them according to the law? How freaking hard is it to ask for a court warrant on justifiable suspects? Or to paraphrase senator Patrick Leahy, you mean to tell me that tens of millions of Americans are suspected Al Qaeda conspirators? Can your intelligence operations be creative, proactive, effective and law abiding at the same time? Apparently not. These bastards have the supreme gall to be both arrogant and incompetent.
The problem is not that liberals or Bush haters are soft on terrorists, the problem is a lying government which thinks it can ignore the Constitution and the rule of law. This should be as scary to the American people as are the terrorists themselves. The Bush Administration has systematically eroded and disregarded the law, lied to the citizenry and basically continues to act with impunity.
I didn't come all the way from Mexico (legally, just so you know) and became an American citizen, to live in a rogue regime.

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