It’s easy to get distracted these days by campaign news and the plight of the economy. But last night the Senate started debate on the future of FISA, the power to conduct surveillance without a warrant, and extending amnesty to telecom companies that broke the law. (Funny how some folks can get so riled up over what they call “amnesty” for brown people, but you don’t hear a peep from them over true amnesty for mega corporations. What part of illegal don’t they understand?)
Let’s look at the lies that the Bush administration is using to manipulate Congress into voting for another ill-conceived and shameful policy.
There was, of course, the initial lie. That domestic spying was limited to “people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations.” Then we learned the truth: that the net cast was much wider, covering millions of American phone calls. Then there was the lie that the FISA wasn’t flexible enough. The truth, of course, was that spying could take place without a warrant for 72 hours. And then there was the lie that, gosh, darn, there was just too much paperwork to fill out with each FISA application. Even though the truth was that Bush administration was able to fill out over 113 of those applications since 9/11 (the total applications in the FISA court’s 23 year history? 46.) Then there was the lie that the government could have prevented the 9/11 attacks had it not had to ask the FISA court for a wiretap. But the truth was that the failure to tap Moussaoui was a result of a clumsy FBI, and not a paralyzed DOJ. Then there was the lie that this domestic spying program was necessary in the wake of 9/11, but the truth is that the Bush administration approached the telecoms as early as February 21, 2001.
The most repulsive lie, however, is that telecoms who aided the administration in turning this nation’s massive spying apparatus on its own citizens were just “doing their patriotic duty.”
National’s action “FISA Flood” is available here.
Andy in Harrisburg