April 14, 2007
Retroactive Absolution

Walter Pincus reports today that the administration wants some revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Why? They’ve been ignoring it anyway.

Naturally the lead request is for the authority to spy on more people. (Are there more?) But we quickly get to the heart of the matter: the revisions would

  • Let the government keep “unintentionally”-gathered information unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance, if it “contains significant foreign intelligence.” Whatever that is; after all, they already keep anything that indicates threats of death or harm.
  • Force telecom companies and email providers to coöperate with investigations.
  • Protect the companies from being sued. This protection “would be applied retroactively to those companies that coöperated with the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

There are a lot of signs in recent days that the administration knows it’s been caught, and is desperately trying to cover up as much of the proof as possible before the adults arrive, a lá Weird Science.

Or in another laugher, anyone remember Fawn Hall of The Iran-Contra Scandal? Her “Sometimes you have to go above the law” was a classic, which her intellectual heirs are still banging out. And her paper-shredding was effective enough to muddy the waters as to exactly what felonies had been committed, and how many times, thus avoiding what would likely have been serious time for several of the main perpetrators. At least one of whom now works in the White House.

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Emails were found, of course, and Bush administration veterans from the Iran-Contra operation like Elliott Abrams apparently recently met to discuss how to get away with it the next time. (According to The New Yorker, they agreed on these axioms: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the CIA has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office.”)

My guess is a lot of those five million emails the administration and the RNC think they “lost” will turn up in a true above-board inspection of all the relevant servers and backups. That would spell deep-dish sheep-dip cherry-stone pie for kr@whatever-outside-address-still-works.com. (Or would it? Certainly he must have a getaway plan…)

The Democrats smell blood on the issue of politicizing the US attorney positions and its connection to the whole corruption theme they’ve ridden recently. It seems nearly certain that there’ve been violations of the Presidential Records Act, probably intentional; and that in itself is enough to provoke suspicion from a Congress that sees its popularity rise as it asserts itself more.

The White House, as even Novak says, is hunkered down and in denial. For those of us who grew up with Nixon in the Oval Office, it’s just like old times. Except that now a much larger percentage of the population is pissed off, and the President is a big-oil Republican instead of a big-oil Democrat.

Iraq, health care, and climate change are bound to be three of the top handful of issues in 2008. That’s not a list many Republicans will enjoy addressing. At some point in the fairly near future most Republicans will have to jump ship if they expect to survive the next election.

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at April 14, 2007 09:30 PM
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And Fawn took other documents from the building tucked in her underwear.

But what I always wondered about those hearings was that nobody asked how Ollie North managed to afford a house that required $10,000 in electronic fencing to protect (which one of the contractors benefiting from his services provided gratis). I looked up military pay scales at the time, and with a nonworking wife (who seemed to be wearing a homemade dress when she appeared at the hearings) and a pile of children, there's no way he could have paid for it---unless he got the same mortgage deal Rick Santorum got.

We know Ollie got a million dollars of life insurance free from an admirer; Mrs. North had to travel to Philadelphia to sign for it. We know Ollie took cash from the White House till when he wanted new snow tires. But none of the questioners ever headed in the direction of wondering if he took a whole lot of cash from the till.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on April 16, 2007 7:43 AM

It's surprising how often these law-and-order war-loving slugs turn out to be simple garden-variety thieves once they have a chance at somebody else's money.

Posted by: CCRyder on April 16, 2007 9:52 AM
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