Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Whistles Are Blowing

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking Thirteen..." — George Orwell, 1984
On this bright cold day in January, two days after the Bush presidency ended, whistleblower Russel Tice has come forward alleging that the NSA, under the direction of George W. Bush, spied on everyone, specifically targeting journalists. Keith Olbermann reported last night (if video doesn't show, click here and you can also watch part 2 here):

So let's think back and remember when Bush told us that his administration was not using the Patriot Act to violate civil rights. After all, "a wiretap requires a court order," Bush said. At least he demonstrated that he understood FISA. Of course, the liar had no intentions of following that law, but he understood it.

This news is being called a bombshell, but who is really surprised at this point? The Bush administration was not just wiretapping terrorists. They were not just wiretapping overseas communications. They were spying on Americans, specifically journalists.

There exists a segment of the population who might say, "so what?" But let's think about what this news means. They wiretapped journalists. They kept tabs on who and what reporters were investigating. They could identify potential whistleblowers. And certainly, private communications reveal private information. In other words, this is the stuff the government could smear and blackmail with.

And though Tice made no mention of this, who doubts that Bush was spying on members of Congress? What information did he have? What was he going to do with it? And does this revelation point to why Pelosi took impeachment "off the table"?

What else could Bush and friends do with everyone's communications? Corporate espionage to benefit his cronies? Just guessing. I'm not afraid to make these wild guesses, because everything I've vaguely suspected about the Bush administration has slowly been verified. I'm wondering what more will come out in the next year, and I wonder if any of it will shock me...

Here is some good news -- if we're not too cynical to believe it -- Dennis Blair, the man President Obama has nominated to head national intelligence, promised there would be no torture and no warrantless wiretapping on his watch. This is a good start.

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