The outrageous news from yesterday pushes me to believe that, even as non-violent and non-activist citizens, we need to cultivate a security culture. Though the preliminary reports are likely incomplete, the information provided by the Times and WaPo, expanded upon by Hilzoy, Terrance, and Avedon Carol, is chilling.
More disturbing is that the Times had this story for over a year and, for whatever reason, did not publish the information. Election politics? The Times also did not disclose what circumstances surrounding the story changed, enabling them to publish the story after sitting on it for a year. To our detriment.
Worse, Bush came out today defending his use of this arguably unconstitutional practice citing that the American people want him to do whatever it takes to “protect” us, and assuring us that it had been cleared by the Justice Department. Thankfully many politicians are refusing to toe a party line and defend the president on this business. Arlen Specter, Judiciary Committee Chairman and Pennsylvania Republican, “planned to investigate use of the wiretaps after the New York Times reported on them. Specter, said such a practice would be ‘clearly and categorically wrong.'”
According to former officials familiar with the policy, Bush signed an executive order in 2002 granting new surveillance powers to the National Security Agency — the branch of the U.S. intelligence services responsible for international eavesdropping, and whose existence was long denied by the government.
“I want to know precisely what they did: how NSA utilized their technical equipment, whose conversations they overheard, how many conversations they overheard, what they did with the material, what purported justification there was … and we will go from there,” Specter said.
I’m donning my tinfoil cap. *cough*
Also read Bush on Wiretapping : I Did It And I’ll Do It Again, and for a more political angle, Bush’s Critics Are Absolutely Right: The President Must Not be Above the Law