December 24, 2005

The Scattergun Defense

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Can you list the defenses the Bush administration has made for his Spying-on-the-People crime? There are so many, and every single one is a tissue-thin lie. And yet the media continues to regurgitate them as if they haven't been challenged. That goes beyond lazy reporting and into the realm of complicity. Much of this is repeating what I've blogged on before, but an overall tally I think clarifies the Bush strategy: the scattergun approach, or to obfuscate by quantity of arguments. If you give enough excuses, people will lose track of the fact that all of them have been discredited, and will believe at least one or two of the many. Certainly the "liberal media" is playing along. Here's the list as I have it:

  • It wasn't illegal; Bush has such powers in the Constitution and in U.S. law - (No such authorization in the Constitution or U.S. law has been detailed; to the contrary, the 4th Amendment and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) say that it is illegal)
  • It saved us from terrorist attacks since 9/11 - (No evidence to that effect has been forwarded; there was an 8-year lull in al Qaeda attacks in the U.S. between 1982 and 2000 which was not won via illegal eavesdropping; alternately, the current anti-terror program has not stopped a multitude of al Qaeda attacks overseas)
  • Congress voted to give Bush the power - (To the contrary, Bush specifically asked for those powers and Congress turned him down)
  • Getting a FISA warrant would have slowed down the administration's ability to act - (False: Bush could have gone ahead on any warrant immediately, getting a retroactive warrant from the FISA court, which approved 99.98% of them)
  • Bush has been safeguarding Americans' civil liberties - (All talk and no action; to the contrary, Bush has challenged and abused American civil liberties)
  • The power will never be abused - (Power is always abused, as this spying case clearly demonstrates; the Homeland Security power was abused in the Texas redistricting political battle, as one other recent example)
  • Those who revealed the story aided the enemy and put the country at risk - (False: Al Qaeda has been well-aware that its communications have been under observation)
  • FISA restrictions prevented the administration from getting 9/11 data that could have prevented the attacks - (False: the Bush administration never asked for the warrants that could have uncovered the information that Bush says FISA prevented them from getting)
  • The classic Bush defense chestnet: Clinton did it - (And Carter too, so they claimed--but both claims were false, omitting a key provision that U.S. citizens could not be included in warrantless searches)
So while there might seem to be a profusion of defenses that make it seem that Bush's actions were not illegal, every single one is false, and not a single one excuses, authorizes or explains what Bush did. The overall quantity of arguments does not in itself result in a strong defense--to the contrary, that all of them are lies only emphasizes how weak the administration's case is.

More appallingly, the media has been falling for it, constantly reporting the defenses as if they had not been thoroughly discredited, or as if they were "opinions" that merited reporting simply because they exist.

Bush ... broke ... the ... law. That's what it comes down to.

Posted by Luis at December 24, 2005 08:28 AM