Thursday, December 29, 2005

I Spy and Other Games King George Likes to Play

I have been meaning to post on this subject for several days now, but RL keeps getting in the way. Suffice to say that we, the editorial board here at BotB, are decidedly anti-spying. Not anti-information gathering for reasons of national security mind you, but against warrantless invasions of privacy without any guarantee of oversight to keep the administration honest. "Trust us," the president says. Here are three good reasons not to:

First, when in the five years this administration has been in office have they given us any reason to trust them? Even if you overlook the questions about the authenticity of the elections, Plamegate and...well a whole list of grievances too numerous to mention, the Bush presidency has failed the nation in their handling of the economy, national security and emergency preparedness (the deficit, Iraq and New Orleans). With this legacy, why would we trust them with our civil liberties?

Second, there is good reason to believe that a lack of information was not the major problem pre- 9/11 (or pre-Iraq or Katrina either). There was credible evidence that al Qaida planned to use planes to attack the US and that pilots were learning to fly planes but not land them. The Bush administration claims they were not able to bring all this information together in time to stop what happened and called for new ways to share between agencies, but the data was there. As was the information about New Orleans levees and the lack of WMD in Iraq. The administration simply could not, or did not, do enough with the information available. Why would we give them power to invade our privacy in order to gain more data that they have proven not to use in the first place?

Third, I give you this evaluation by Prof. Sandy Levinson (via Kos) about Bush's nominations to the SCOTUS, in light of the wiretap revelations. Judge Alito has been suspect by abortion groups from the beginning, based on things known about his previous opinions and writings, but it is his thoughts on executive powers that Levinson now ponders. There were other possible nominees with credentials equal to or surpassing Alito. What made him the choice of the administration? I wonder if the Meier nomination sheds any light on this question. Who better than someone devoted to the president to expand the powers so desired by W? When a substitution was needed, did Alito get the call because they felt he would be the one to vote most favorably to the issue of expanded executive powers. If you read nothing else, pay attention here:

". . . This makes it essential, obviously, that every member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee grill Judge Alito on his views of Article II, the
Commander-in-Chief Clause, and, for that matter, the Oath of Office, given that
University of Minnesota Law Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen reads the Oath to
license the President basically to do whatever he wishes so long as there is a
good faith belief that it is "defense" of the Constitution. Quoting Lincoln,
Paulsen argues that just as one can amputate a limb in order to save the life of
a person, so can a President in effect ignore any given part of the
Constitution, including, of course, any of the protections of the Bill of
Rights, in order to save the Nation. To put it mildly, this theory of the
"amputated Constitution" should give us all pause."

Trust must be earned. The Bush administration has done nothing but thumb their noses at the American people. By failing to live up to their promises, by lying in the face of revealed wrongdoing and by denying the legitimacy of the checks and balances provided in the Constitution, they have shown the country and the world the disdain they feel for the very democracy they pretend to advance. Ben Franklin said, "Those willing to sacrifice a little freedom for the sake of a little safety, deserve neither." I say if the emperor has no clothes, don't loan him any.