Friday, December 16, 2005

Bush Won't Discuss Report of NSA Spying

Well, here's another non-surprise. From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - President Bush refused to say whether the National Security Agency eavesdropped without warrants on people inside the United States but leaders of Congress condemned the practice on Friday and promised to look into what the administration has done.

"There is no doubt that this is inappropriate," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said there would be hearings early next year and that they would have "a very, very high priority." He wasn't alone in reacting harshly to the report. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the story, first reported in Friday's New York Times, was troubling.

Bush said in an interview that "we do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country. And the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them.

"I will make this point," Bush said. "That whatever I do to protect the American people — and I have an obligation to do so — that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

The president spoke in an interview to be aired Friday evening on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer."

Bush played down the importance of the eavesdropping story. "It's not the main story of the day," Bush told Lehrer. "The main story of the day is the Iraqi elections" for parliament which took place on Thursday.

What sort of comment can I say about this? Bush claims the Iraqi elections is the main story and not this little NSA spying on American citizens? Excuse me? I could care less about the Iraqi elections, but I am certainly more worried about the NSA illegally spying on me, without search warrants or court orders. Of course, Bush doesn't want to talk about NSA spying--this opens up a huge debate on how much power the state should have in spying on its own citizens. And the NSA story is especially troubling now, considering that the Bush White House wanted the Patriot Act extensions to be continued indefinitely. Well, the Senate just rejected the Patriot Act extensions, and now Spector wants to investigate this NSA spying charges.

The more I watch what is going on in Iraq, and now here at home, the more I start to see disturbing parallels to Vietnam. And I'm not just talking about the similarities between the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam. We now have similarities on the home front. In the 1970s, Nixon used the intelligence agencies to spy on anti-war protestors at home, and Democratic Party leaders--Watergate was a botched eavesdropping job to listen in on the Democratic Party HQ in Washington. Now we have reports of the NSA spying on Americans at home. And it is not just the NSA spying here--remember, there's also the NBC News report on the Pentagon database of investigating anti-war groups and individuals, with the DoD claiming they were possible terrorist threats.

Have I been transported back in time to 1970?

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