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If you review Bush’s State of the Union Address from Monday night, you will note that his fear-mongering served one consistent aim: to attack the privacy rights and expectations of American citizens. Be afraid. Be very afraid, he tells us. Be prepared to surrender your privacy. Trust us. Big Government will only use all your private secrets to protect you.
Will he get his way? All eyes are turned on the White-flag Democrats. Will they do what they usually do, namely buckle and run? Or will they stand their ground and show that their office as members of Congress, their pledge to the Constitution actually mean something?
In the last twenty-four hours, both the House and the Senate have approved a fifteen day extension of the Orwellian Protect America Act, a law which gives Bush plenary discretion to tap the phone conversations of Americans conducted with anyone beyond our borders. In both cases, the Congressional chambers acted by voice vote, so that the positions of the members are unknown. According to Majority Leader Harry Reid, a “deal is in the works” now that would produce some consensus legislation.
But Glenn Greenwald offers us some solid analysis and speculation about what’s in the works:
there are really only two possible ways for all of this to be derailed:
(1) the Senate passes one or more pending amendments which is unacceptable to the White House and thus provokes a veto of the bill Congress passes (the most likely candidates: Sen. Feinstein’s amendment declaring (again) that FISA is the “exclusive means” for eavesdropping and/or Sen. Feingold’s amendment compelling the disclosure to Congress of the secret FISA court rulings which the White House claimed prompted the need for changes to FISA in the first place); or,
(2) the House stands firm with the bill it already passed and refuses to provide telecom amnesty and new warrantless eavesdropping powers, even once the Senate does so. At this point, option (1) seems far more likely, as the Blue Dogs can single-handedly fulfill all the President’s demands by voting (along with the Republicans) in favor of the Senate bill.
The White House–understandably–is extremely confident that they will win, as they always do, telling “conservative journalists” with whom they met today: “once the Senate votes to make FISA permanent–including immunity for the telecoms–the House will acquiesce.”
Here’s Senator Russ Feingold to remind us of what this struggle is all about.
Should we trust this administration—or any administration—with fundamental rights of privacy? Greenwald reminds us of the words that the Great Communicator used to deal with such appeals. Especially since his party is intent on falsifying his legacy, the words that Reagan delivered in accepting the nomination at the 1980 Republican Convention are worth recalling:
“Trust me” government is government that asks that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man; that we trust him to do what’s best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs–in the people.
The Bush Administration is putting the nation on the road to serfdom. Those who understand that fact keep quiet at their own peril. This is the time to check in with your representatives in Congress if you have not already done so. No to telecom immunity. No to extension of the PAA. No to warrantless surveillance of private communications.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Number of Turkish college students detained in the last year for requesting Kurdish-language classes:
Turkey was funding a search for Suleiman the Magnificent’s heart.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”