What is al-Qaeda’s primary goal? Effectively destroying America’s infidel way of life. Killing and causing mayhem are only means toward this end. We hear regular talk of sleeper cells undermining our society, and of agents who will stop at nothing to destroy all we hold dear. This week exposed the most dangerous terrorist agent working in the United States, the single man who has done the most to destroy our values and system of government: George W. Bush.
Congress passed the Patriot Act in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Liberals decried it as a serious erosion of Constitutional rights; Conservatives hailed it as providing sorely-needed powers in the alleged “war on terror.” The Bush White House said all the right things, which was easy for them. They had no intention of being bound by it.
We learned this week that our intelligence agencies have been spying on American citizens within the borders of the United States. These extraordinary actions have been, Bush says, “critical to saving American lives.” He went on to say that only those with “a clear link” to al-Qaeda or other terrorist organizations have been targets.
According to who? If the link is so clear, then probable cause should be easy to establish. Special courts for private hearings were created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Even those secret tribunals are considered too restrictive by Bush. The ultimate criterion for who gets spied on is Bush’s personal judgment, which has already given us the Iraqi quagmire, record deficits, and demonstrated his regard for true homeland security matters by his administration’s “response” to Hurricane Katrina.
“The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties,” Bush said in his weekly radio address. Since he invoked the Constitution himself, let’s see what it says on the matter, specifically the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Bush has yet to give a categorical explanation of how his recently exposed actions fit in here.
Caught with his hand in your cookie jar, Bush took the usual refuge of scoundrels and blamed the messenger. The recent New York Times article that exposed him “puts our citizens at risk,” he said, because “our enemies have learned information they should not have.” No methods have been revealed, and no agents’ covers have been blown. (Insert your personal Valerie Plame comment here.) Not just laws, but our most cherished Constitutional values are being flaunted at the highest levels of government. The American people who (barely) elected Bush have a right to know that the protections we have been told to assume since birth only extend as far as a spoiled kid with a messianic complex says they do.
Look at the example we’re setting for Iraq in the way of democracy. We have secret prisons, where people who may (or may not) be terrorists are tortured by our agents. (Bush’s best defense there is to say at least we’ve kept the deficit down by using existing Iraqi prisons.) We plant and pay for stories in the Iraqi press to make the situation on the ground look better than it is. Given some of the existing characteristics of the Iraqi population, how long will it be before Saddam v 2.0 takes over, using our actions as a template for “democracy?” (See this blog’s entry for December 11, titled “What We’re Fighting For.”) The updated Saddam might well be associated with terrorists. Given the religious demographics, he could be assumed to be willing to partner with Iran. We’ll be a lot safer then.
Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath about personal matters. He shouldn’t have done it, and may have deserved his impeachment solely for his hubris and disregard of the country’s business by refusing to come clean. On January 20, 2005, George W. Bush raised his right hand and swore an oath in front of millions of people to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Hell of a job he’s doing.