Friday, December 16, 2005

another step closer to being a banana republic

El jefe, I mean the de facto President-Generalissimo-Inquisitor-in-Chief has ordered the top-secret National Security Agency to spy on people in the United States without a warrant. Bush refuses to comment because to do so would tie his hands in the war on terrorism.

This is really disturbing. The NSA is not supposed to eavesdrop on Americans, it's supposed to spy on foreigners in foreign countries. And now it's been turned inward, without any legislative authorization or judicial intervention, without appropriate warrants. The Justice Department claims the executive branch can freely watch foreign agents without warrants despite laws duly passed by Congress. So much for the equality of the legislative and executive.

This Administration locks up people for years without bringing charges -- not just foreigners, but American citizens like Jose Padilla. This Administration fights against anything that would hinder its right to torture people (although it refuses to be honest and rejects the "t" word). This Administration's military illegally keep records on peaceful citizens who speak out against the military. This Administration kidnaps people out of foreign countries -- out of FRIENDLY foreign countries like Italy -- and sends them either to other foreign countries where they will be tortured, or to our own secret prisons. This Administration, lest it be forgotten, stole the Florida election in 2000 and may have stolen Ohio in 2004, after approving a smear campaign impugning the war record of a real war hero. Come to think of it, it smeared a different war hero (McCain) in 2000, too. This is a record an Argentinean general circa 1980 might be proud of.

At least the Senate refused to renew some provisions of the Patriot Act for infringing too much on Americans' privacy. Having the NSA tap your phones might qualify as such an invasion, too.

Look, watching possible terrorists is a legitimate government activity, but doing so in defiance of existing laws undermines the entire fabric of our system of government. Remember, we're supposed to be a country with rule of law? We preach this to other countries all the time, and now we're not practicing it. What stops the executive branch from subtly changing their focus from spying only on foreigners in the US to spying on Americans without warrants? From torturing Americans they suspect may be acting against the country's (or the Party's) security? From detaining additional Americans without charge? From kidnapping Americans and sending them to Egyptian or Moroccan torture chambers?

Congress impeached Bill Clinton for a blowjob. But so far, no noise at all about impeaching a president who led us into a war thru deception and whose administration has regularly flouted the law and the Constitution.

Pass the bananas.