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Saturday, December 24, 2005

NSA Eavesdropping More Widespread than White House Admitted

Merry Xmas everyone. Or for the Bill O'Reilly lovin freaks: Happy Holiday's? Whatever floats your boat. Normally I would not write today, as it is a day to spend with the family. But at some point we all have to stop and say: WHAT??

I think we can all agree that this weeks revelation that President Bush had ordered the NSA to spy on Americans, whether international calls/emails or not, was shocking but not terribly surprising. We can all even agree that, regardless of the arguments for and against warrantless wiretaping, some Americans probably do need to be watched. But when is enough enough? The New York Times printed a story today that provides a lot more insight into the extent of the NSA surveillance. It seems that Mr. Bush and his administration have not been completely forthcoming as to the extent of the spying. What a surprise. I don't deny the fact that some of this information can be extremely valuable in the fight against terrorism. The problem here, though, is that there is a process to follow in these circumstances. White House arguments that the courts are too slow or the new technologies have changed the way we play the game have no validity when you take into account the fact that these warrants can be obtained up to 72 hours after the tapping has taken place, and in times of war, which we can qualify for now, the government has up to two weeks. This is a process that takes a few hours, so there is no excuse to not apply for warrants (unless the reason is to not leave a record of who they are watching, that might another story onto itself).

These procedures are in place for a reason, and that reason is checks and balances. You cannot allow the White House or any other institution to take matters into their own hands because the propensity for abuse in the absence of oversight is almost assured. Particularly this administration. The White House, with a major push from Vice President Dick Cheney, has actively sought to expand upon executive power at the expense of the public. With the occurence of 9/11 they have gotten a free pass for almost everything, and, where Congress should have done its job and kept the Bush administration in check, they went along with it and now they find themselves in a difficult position. What is to say that these current abuses will not escalate into full raids, searches, interrogations, etc., all in the name of National Security (the excuse for everything)? As of now we are a long way from that, but hey, we were a long way from torturing, and now we do (do not be stupid enough to think that we have not tortured some captives, if you don't think we have then you should probably stop reading this blog because I at least expect a reader to be somewhat informed about current events and be able to tell facts from political spin).

Expansion of executive powers of any President is a risk, but for this one it is a disaster. President Bush has definitely shown himself to be someone that will at times choose ideology over law, and rhetoric over logic. It is bad enough that we are hated around the world, that we are conducting two wars, that were are being spied upon, etc., the last thing we need is for our troops to suffer barbarous torture as retaliation for some acts committed under this Administrations watch. When does the time come for government institutions to become accountable to the people who elect them? Is it not time to ask The White House and Congress to rise to the level that this nation should represent? To stand for the ideals that we so proudly boast to the rest of the world, but hypocritically fail to uphold in our homeland? Right, if that were so, we would be a Utopia. We might as well dream on.

NSA eavesdropping wider than W.House admitted: report

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