Thursday, 20 September 2007

Debate over US domestic spying 'costs lives'

Apparently legislative investigations into the executive's more questionable programs cost lives and allow the terrorists to win.

More fear-mongering by the Bush administration. Haven't we had enough executive expansion? Too many American civil liberties have been quashed in the name of fighting terror.

Yesterday, in his usual 'do this or the terrorists win' attitude, President Bush urged Congress to expand and continue to allow the domestic surveillance his administration has fought so hard to keep secret, free of oversight, and far-reaching. Today, his intelligence director laid out more defense for the program.


A debate in Congress over eavesdropping on terrorism suspects will cost American lives by exposing intelligence techniques, the Bush administration's spy chief said on Thursday.
"What this dialogue and debate has allowed those who wish us harm to do, is to understand significantly more about how we were targeting their communications," McConnell told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

Asked if debates had cost U.S lives, he said, "They will."

Normally I'd look past this extreme rhetoric. I've gotten used to this stuff spewing out of the White House — it is politics, after all. However slanting the issue by saying that just the debate over the wiretapping program puts lives at risk is going too far. This emphasizes the need for Congress to act with scrutiny and not turn a blind eye.

McConnell said a couple days ago that the need for more domestic surveillance was elevated not only because of terrorists, but because China and Russia are allegedly spying at the United States at Cold War levels.

So yeah, let's get rid of democracy and the tiny bit of oversight over the White House, or else the terrorists win! This is an agreement for security over freedom; it's amazing that President Bush can still stand and say that he is defending freedom. If important, democratic political debate gives information to the terrorists, that is probably information they already know. Plus, that's one of the downsides of democracy: transparency and freedom can cut away at security. But a democracy is founded on the principles of holding the principles of freedom over the often-misused power-gaining excuse of security.

For now the White House should be happy. Congress rubber-stamped their controversial NSA warrantless domestic wiretapping plan back in August. While the debate continues, the administration will continue to say lives are being lost. It appears it wants no transparency, and no power checks. This is a disturbing thing coming from a branch of a democratic government. This isn't the way to go about securing the nation. It's a way for the administration to once again spin the debate over terrorism for its own gain.

If terror suspects really need to be monitored — which, I agree, they do — then why not get judicial oversight? I mean, that's what the courts are for. At least true congressional oversight is needed. But the administration has time and time again stopped even Republican lawmakers from doing their jobs and knowing what's going on in their own government. One example: after agreeing to several one-sided deals on a variety of issues, former Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is growing increasingly frustrated with the Bush administration's lack of transparency. When there are probes and investigations, they are overly politicized by both sides, and congresspeople end up with only rhetoric and biased assertions, not statement's telling them how laws like the NSA surveillance program are being carried out. They hear that their investigation costs lives; they are not told the hows or whys.

It's time for policymakers to stand up to this unitary executive, not in stubbornness or for shallow political reasons, but because it's their job.

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