Bush: Fearmongering for more power

(Update below)

“Who would have guessed that after 235 years, the fate of America, its ability to survive as a Nation, would depend on giving license to AT&T and Verizon to break the law without being sued by their customers in court?”Glenn Greenwald

Ever since September 11, 2001, our President has repeatedly used the fear of terrorism to garner public support for his policies. Policies that, more often than not, have been utter failures or attacked the framework of our Constitution.

Long ago, the public stopped paying heed to the blatant fearmongering of our President. Witness the decline in popularity of the Iraq war, despite repeated warnings from our President that we’ll all die if we leave.

Bush’s latest fearmongering is on the issue of warrantless domestic spying and retroactive immunity for telecoms who aided in that spying (which I’ve discussed here, and here).

Bask in the inanity:

“Without this liability shield, we may not be able to secure the private sector’s cooperation. … and that of course would put the American people at risk,” Bush said. With all due respect — which I suppose is none in this case — go to hell Mr. President.

Making it sound like U.S. intelligence gathering will stop, and thus we’ll all die, without giving immunity to telecoms for breaking our laws is wrong. It’s a lie. The FISA laws, which were updated in the wake of 9/11, will still exist. Telecoms will still be required by law to help the government spy when they are given legal requests.

Olbermann puts it a little better than I can:

As Olbermann says, the President is the one terrorizing us and while Bush’s fearmongering may no longer work on the general population, it still seems capable of cowing other politicians. The Senate has already capitulated to Bush. The House is showing signs of a spine, but their track record doesn’t give me hope.

Update: Matthew Yglesias has weighed on the FISA debate and makes an excellent point about setting a dangerous precedent:

[…] If the executive branch comes to a private company and asks it to do something illegal, the executive branch has powerful ways of making the company see things its way. Being on the good side of the incumbent administration is a good place to be.

But still, companies will think twice about cooperating with illegal requests if they’re sure that doing so will come around and bite them in the ass in the long run. But if you create the situation the Bush administration is proposing — where failure to comply with illegal requests has negative consequences, but agreeing to comply with illegal requests lets you off scot free — then no company going forward is going to have any reason to refuse to comply with any sort of illegal requests. In essence, the immunity provision would gut whatever other restrictions the new FISA law might contain.


  1. Ian

    For some reason the whole notion of needing the private sector to play along just doesn’t add up in my head. Don’t we pay taxes for an intelligence service? I understand that all of the fiber optics and whatnot are privately owned, but its not like they weren’t getting access to them anyways. The FISA court was pretty much giving them unlimited access to tap stuff they wanted to anyways. The court rarely rejected any request, I seem to recall reading. They use this excuse that terrorists change names and cell phone numbers frequently so they need immediate access. I don’t buy that really. I can’t imagine that a terrorist has a new name and number every damn day. If they did, they would somehow have to inform all of their buddies their new name and number every day. You can’t tell me that somehow you couldn’t intercept such a communication of information. And if you have a bunch of these guys changing name and number daily, they would have such a logistical nightmare keeping track of each other unless they somehow had a central source of information exchange. I’m sure the FISA court would allow them to tap that central source. This is stupid. F Bush.

  2. Chris

    Of course it doesn’t add up. Warrantless spying and retroactive immunity proponents aren’t interested in making a cogent case, because they can’t. They want unlimited power to spy, legal immunity and money for their friends at AT&T and Verizon.