Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Breaking News: 9/11 Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Congress is ready to extend the NSA surveillance program, provided court-issued warrants for wiretapping continue to be required. Dubya has threatened to veto the legislation unless retroactive immunity is guaranteed for telecom companies that turned over customers' phone records to the government in the absence of warrants.
Bush warned that he would not sign the Democratic legislation unless it gives U.S. telecommunications firms retroactive immunity from lawsuits for lending assistance in counterterrorism investigations after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
After the September 11 attacks. After. That phrase is going to cause some problems.
A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.

Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.

September 11 changed everything? Not so much. January 20, 2001 changed everything? Much more like it. The government went to the telecoms scarcely a month after Bush took office to enact a spying program the adminstration insists is necessary to prevent another 9/11 attack. Except that the program was in place before 9/11, and 9/11 not only happened anyway, but was immediately thrust forward as the reason why the program is necessary. It's logic, Mobius-strip style. It's one more example of enacting a policy, based on deception, that immediately becomes an inescapable causality loop.

Pelosi, Reid, where are you? How many more times will you allow this administration to go all Uri Geller on our reality, bending the Constitution and our lives in one giant stage show designed only for the perpetuation of its own power?

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