Friday, December 16, 2005

Busy Week!

There sure is a lot going on. More plea bargains in the Delay criminal proceedings, a torture bill that prevents US citizens from actually performing torture duties themselves, and Bush defecating on the US Constitution by approving of the spying on Americans without any legal oversight.

Things aren't looking too good for Delay. Bush says he’s innocent, but at this point, I think Bush could just as easily say that Delay is the Pope and son of Christ and it would mean about the same thing. Bush’s credibility is gone. Pretty much everything he’s told us so far has turned out to be a fabrication. It would actually stun me now to hear him tell the truth about anything of any importance. I think the last verifiable thing he said was that armadillos dig holes. On that day, he told the truth. I’ve seen armadillos dig holes. I believe him.

The McCain bill, to prevent US citizens from performing torture is touted as landmark legislation. I suppose it could be, it’s certainly landmark BS. So what? US Citizens won’t be prosecuted under this law if they tie a prisoner down and let an Israeli or Iraqi do the torturing while the American does the interrogation. It won’t stop US citizens from traveling to Germany, kidnapping German citizens then paying other governments to torture them for us. It’s a toothless law. It’s meaningless.

I’ve heard more than one pundit argue that the US on the whole has the moral upper hand in the war on terror. I can’t really see how that makes any sense. If we’re defining morality and the way the world should conduct the war on terror, then the methods we use can be legitimately used by any other government in their own war on terror. If we’re kidnapping Germans in Germany and taking them to other countries to be tortured, sometimes to death, then it would be reasonable that Germans could come to the US, kidnap Americans outside of Walmart and rendition them to be tortured to death in some third world country. That’s how you fight the war on terror. If the US does it, everyone can. We set the standards.

And now we discover that Bush has made at least one executive order allowing the wiretapping of phone conversations by US citizens, anytime they make an overseas call, all without oversight or a warrant.

And what call might that be? Calls to friends in Canada? Calls to your buds on a cruise vacation? Calls to buds, partying it up in Cancun? Sure, all of these calls can now be wiretapped, recorded, and used at a later time for any purpose. In the old Soviet Union wiretapping was done as a matter of course, like it’s done now. Warehouses full of tapes were stored and often sold off on the blackmarket for blackmail purposes. Got a tape of federal employee that’s discussed an affair with a coworker on the phone? Heck use that tape to blackmail both of them to get free government services. Need such a tape? Get some dirt on an employee that works in the government where they store this mountain of data and leverage it to get more conversations of people in important places. Need to ruin someone in public? Get a tape and post it on the internet.

Many people have argued that such surveillance is necessary to fight the war on terrorism. But there has never been an instance of a government not using such information for corrupt purposes. As the US now regards kidnapping citizens of allied nations, and torturing them to death as a reasonable course of action, why should we expect illegally wiretapped conversations to be used with due prudence? And this executive order is illegal. It is expressly prohibited by the US Constitution. As of course is much of the language in the Patriot Act.

I think right now, we can assume that there are other unconstitutional executive orders out there, that haven’t yet been uncovered. Heck, maybe all cell phone conversations are subject to wiretapping? Did you ever say anything on a cell phone that you wouldn’t want put on the internet for the world to download? I hope not.

Now that the order is old and wiretapping has been going on for some time, there’s likely many interesting conversations with frat buddies in Cancun that will last in archives for generations so that government workers can sit and listen to them, then resell them to interested parties. Even an act of Congress can’t stop this now. Those recordings will live forever in the government bureaucracy.

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