Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Bush Defends 'Terrorist Surveillance'

Associated Press Writer

January 23, 2006, 11:15 PM EST

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- President Bush pushed back Monday at critics of his once-secret domestic spying effort, saying it should be termed a "terrorist surveillance program" and contending it has the backing of legal experts, key lawmakers and the Supreme Court.

Several members of Congress from both parties have questioned whether the warrantless snooping is legal. That is because it bypasses a special federal court that, by law, must authorize eavesdropping on Americans and because the president provided limited notification to only a few lawmakers.

"It's amazing that people say to me, 'Well, he's just breaking the law.' If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?" asked Bush. One of those who had been informed, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was sitting behind Bush during his appearance at Kansas State University.
"Briefing Congress"? Pat Roberts counts as "briefing Congress"? I mean, OK, let's give the baby his bottle and call it a "terrorist surveillance" program (neatly begging the question, "what is a terrorist as he defines it?").

Or not. Let's take a look at some of the spin being done here:
"I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you what it means: It means Congress gave me the authority to use necessary force to protect the American people, but it didn't prescribe the tactics," Bush said.

Bush and Gen. Michael Hayden, the former National Security Agency director who is now the government's No. 2 intelligence official sought to paint the program as vital to national security. "Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the al-Qaida operatives in the United States," Hayden said.
You mean like the August 6 2001 PDB said there were, Mr. Bush? Would you have ignored THESE as well, sir?
Hayden maintained that the work was within the law. "The constitutional standard is reasonable. ... I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we are doing is reasonable," he said at the National Press Club.
Is that why a FISA judge resigned in disgust, Gen. Hayden?

Who's zooming who here? And who REALLY is a terrorist? That's the question maybe Bush ought to be addressing.

By the way, there was this luscious exchange between Bush and a UKansas audience member regarding Brokeback Mountain. It read funnier than it played on TV:
WASHINGTON — President Bush long has cultivated the image of a rancher in the Wild West, donning cowboy boots and blue jeans to clear brush on his sprawling Texas property. But on Monday he was noncommittal, and even a bit nonplused, when asked for his reaction to the most talked-about ranching film in years, "Brokeback Mountain."

"I haven't seen it," Bush said of the critically acclaimed love story about two gay ranch hands. "I'll be glad to talk about ranching," the president told thousands of students and professors in the audience at Kansas State University, "but I haven't seen the movie."

"You're a rancher," the young man said to Bush. "A lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I was just wanting to get your opinion on 'Brokeback Mountain,' if you've seen it yet."

As the hall filled with nervous laughter, the young man persisted: "You would love it. You should check it out."

The president appeared as if he wanted to say something about the film. "I've heard about it," he said. "I hope you go — you know."

He paused, and the hall filled again with nervous laughs. The president appeared to chuckle a bit, and then said: "I hope you go back to the ranch and the farm is what I'm about to say."

[....] One observer said he was not surprised by Bush's apparent discomfort. Although the story line is full of Republican touchstones — small-town Fourth of July celebrations, a father's devotion to his children, even the wide-open landscape of Wyoming, Vice President Dick Cheney's home state — the depiction of homosexuality makes the film untouchable for a politician.

"It's the thing no one can talk about," said Bill Handley, an associate professor of English at USC who is compiling a book of essays on the movie's cultural impact. "So he's repeating that whole gesture in the film that you turn your eyes away, you don't want to act like it's there."
Or, to put it another way: Only thing ever came out of Crawford, Texas is steers and queers and I ain't seein' no horns on Bush...

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