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Saturday, April 15, 2006

This is going to be another one of those posts covering several topics because there's not enough that can be said about any one to fill a page on it's own. One quick observation before I dive headlong into what brings me to the keyboard: With the price of gas hovering right at or above $3.00 a gallon, does it not seem that Americans are nowhere near as outraged as they once were at the thought of paying this high a price for fuel? This goes to prove my observation that you can do almost anything you want to people as long as its done slow enough not to cause severe pain. Let them get used to the ever increasing levels of discomfort and they'll let you rob them blind. Heck, most times, they'll even concoct their own justifications for why you're fleecing them. People are funny that way... Just ask the IRS!
On the way to work, I like to listen to KOMO on the radio because I get news without the ranting of right- or left-leaning commentator. I just want the facts--not all the mouth-frothing that KIRO or KVI mixes in. So, there I was listening to the news when the bit about National Headlines comes on. The mouthpiece told me that several retired generals have called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. They cited a number of issues, but mainly it was over the debacle in Iraq. Then the reporter said that it was just a coincidence that all these arm-chair generals called for his removal. A coincidence? Several generals looking at the same body of evidence and arriving at the same conclusion does not make a coincidence. That would be like saying that it's just a coincidence that a jury of twelve happened to arrive at the same verdict after reviewing the same facts and evidence of a trial.
After I got home, I looked this up online and discovered that the person who originated this quote was one of the retired generals. From an Associated Press article:
One of those calling for Rumsfeld's replacement, retired Gen. John Batiste, earlier Friday called the recent series of critical statements "absolutely coincidental" and said he did not know of any coordinated effort to discredit the defense secretary.
The article goes on to identify those who are calling for the removal of Rumsfeld: retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold. (Now, that's a lot of brass!) I want to point out that just because these guys haven't formed into a cohesive and unified body in no way discredits their assessment of the facts. They're all intelligent men in their own right. Furthermore, the fact that they all reached the same conclusion independently goes a long way to illustrate what a crappy job Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is doing.
Thumbnail view. Click for larger image.Next on my list is an old article with an online poll that is still active. The poll askes the question, "Do you believe President Bush's actions justify impeachment?" You can take the poll by clicking here and read the associated article by clicking here. The article was written back on December 21, 2005 and is titled Spying, the Constitution - and the 'I-word'. At the close of the article, the author makes some observations about what he anticipated would happen. One in particular caught my eye:
Arguably the most interesting - and influential - Republicans in the Senate right now are the libertarians. They're suspicious of the Patriot Act and, I am guessing, pivotal in any discussion of the NSA and others' spy efforts. Most are Westerners (Craig, Hagel, Murkowski) and the other is Sen. John Sununu. He is from New Hampshire, which, as anyone who has spent time there understands, is the Wild West of the East Coast. All you have to do is look at its license plate slogan: "Live Free or Die." It'll be interesting to see how other nominal small-government conservatives - Sen. George Allen of Virginia comes to mind - handle the issue.
I didn't know we had libertarians in the Senate. But that's not the main point I wanted to make. It's the last sentence where the author wonders where all this will lead. To me, it looks like we have ended up with 534 bed-wetters. (I reserve judgement on Sen. Russ Feingold for his attempt to Censure the President.) What's really interesting about this poll is how many people are in favor of bringing impeachment proceedings against Bush. The last time I looked, the vote count was just shy of 250,000 and the margin was 86% in favor of impeachment. Here's a question for you: If the purpose of Congress is supposed to be a representation of the will of the people and the will of the people shows that four out of five people think the President has done something worthy of impeachment, why is all of Congress sitting on their thumbs? If they won't do what the people want them to do, why bother sending these clowns to Washington? If they refuse to do the job for which they were hired for, they need to be fired!
Speaking of impeachment... I've been following a developing story that has an ex-AT&T employee handing over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation documents exposing the NSA's spying program and AT&T's cooperation in setting up secret rooms which enable the NSA to eavesdrop on countless electronic conversations. Folks, this one looks bad for AT&T and the NSA/GovCo. From the article:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it obtained documents from a former AT&T technician showing that the National Security Agency is capable of monitoring all communications on AT&T's network.
"It appears the NSA is capable of conducting what amounts to vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet, whether that be people's e-mail, Web surfing or any other data," whistle-blower Mark Klein, who worked for the company for 22 years, said in a statement released by his lawyers.
I hear this little voice in the back of my mind quoting someone from government, "We're not interested in conversations between you and you're aunt Mable. We're only interested in the goings on of al Qaeda." It would seem that -- spoiler alert -- they lied! They've been blanket eavesdropping the whole damned time. It gets worse:
The suit claims AT&T company not only provided direct access to its network that carries voice and data but also to its massive databases of stored telephone and Internet records that are updated constantly.
AT&T violated U.S. law and the privacy of its customers as part of the "massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications" without warrants, the EFF alleged.
Klein said the NSA built a secret room at the company's San Francisco central office in 2003, adjacent to a "switch room where the public's phone calls are routed." One of the documents under seal, Klein said, shows that a device was installed with the "ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets."
Other so-called secret rooms were constructed at AT&T sites in Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, the statement said.
The question right now is whether the judge will do the right thing--allowing these documents to be unsealed so that the case can continue, or will he succumb to pressures from the Bush administration--screwing the American people out of their right to privacy. All my money is riding on the latter. There's no conceivable way that anyone connected with our corrupt government is going to allow it to be crippled by something of this magnitude. The argument will be made that government's "compelling interest" to protect the American people does not allow them to unseal the documents. My prediction: The people will get the shaft and government will grow in size and power.


Blogger Mark said...

1. Question: Why is it that the retired generals waited until they left the military before speaking out? After all, they are sworn to uphold the Constitution. Could it be that they are simply dissatisfied with the outcome in Iraq and not with the unilateral action taken by Bush in invading the country? If the war had produced the results desired by Bush, would they be criticizing the war?

2. There are no libertarians in the Senate. The only libertarian in Congress is Ron Paul from Texas. What there is a lot of in Congress is cowardice. Almost every one of those critters has no backbone, no understand ing of the Constitution and no willingness to defend the freedoms that they, too, swore to uphold.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Don Bangert said...

Your conclusion that "they are simply dissatisfied with the outcome in Iraq" is probably correct.

9:59 PM  

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