Thursday, April 03, 2008

Update from behind the door

By Carol Gee

By which bit of national security news will we be buoyed these days? It turns out that a number of the Bush administration's efforts claiming to protect national security have been revealed to be just the opposite. For example, the release of the Justice Department's John Yoo so-called "torture memo," House continued steadfastness regarding the FISA bill, fear mongering Republicans are often failing, and more mainstream media reports of the truth about the war in Iraq.

By which branch of Congress will United States citizens have their civil liberties protected? It turns out that the House of Representatives has had the courage to stand up to the current Bush administration's threats and fear mongering regarding the future FISA bill(s). And it has worked. The House Majority Leader is reporting that there may be room for compromise, according to TPM Muckraker, 4/1/08: "Hoyer: The Administration wants to talk." Also, "It Turns Out There Was No Wolf," by emptywheel, 4/1/08, presents a note of cautious optimism that checks and balances may actually be viable.

By which administration officials were the Constitutional privacy protections/civil liberties most recently betrayed? A couple of reliable bloggers posted the latest on the Bush administrations public relations blitz during the recent congressional recess. It turns out that the foreign surveillance program laws were routinely broken prior to the revelation of a far reaching domestic spying program. The administration continues to lie, and continues to lose credibility with larger segments of the general population. Bloggers emptywheel (with "The DNI Is Well-Meaning. Really. Except with Those He Claims Want No IC." -- 4/1/08) and Wired - Threat level (with "In Spy Debate, Top Spy Lobbies, Attorney General Misleads" -- 4/1/08). To quote the latter:

Democrats no longer trust the "straight shooting" Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell and consider him to be a 'lobbyist.' . . . And now the nation's top law enforcement official [Mukasey] is lying about wiretapping laws.

By which agency would you rather be spied upon, the Pentagon or the FBI? Well through court action the ACLU has found out that in this case you need not have choosen, because they were partnered in the effort, using NSL letters as the mechanism. It turns out the the FBI abused the practice by issuing the letters almost indiscriminately, including issuing many for the Pentagon. It also turns out that the Pentagon did its domestic spying through a mechanism known as CIFA, now closed. See "Pentagon closing CIFA," by emptywheel, 4/1/08. Emptywheel closes with this intriguing suspicion, "I don't know how I'll occupy my time until I find where they're going to hide CIFA."

By which branch of internal politics is the current administration now being dominated? Steve Clemons wrote this question in "Purging the neocons" at Andrew Sullivan, 8-31-07. During the early George Bush years, the neocons were clearly in control and alligned with "pugnacious Jesse Helms-revering nationalists like Dick Cheney and John Bolton." It turns out that now many neocons have left government service along with those who were forced out, such as Scooter Libby. To quote Clemons' conclusion last year,

. . . the rise of the "liberal realists" as a counter to the neocons -- but what may be happening is that the Bill Kristol-led neocons harmed this nation during their time at the wheel and those with a conscience, those who understand what checks and balances are about, what habeas corpus means in a justice system, who understand accountability for tragedies like Abu Ghraib are bouncing back to the norms this country has traditionally embraced.

By which of these stories do I become more optimistic? Actually whenever the door to truth is opened we have reason to be hopeful. In the past we could only rely upon the Fourth Estate, the press, to do that for us. Very fortunately, the blogosphere and courageous administration whistle-blowers and a few officials acting in good faith, have also managed to get at the truth within the shadows. It is a very good thing!

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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