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Is Bush Violating Civil Liberties?

In this eclectic society in which we live, there is the Book of the Month, the Fruit of the Month, and now we are graced with yet another category: President Bush's Impeachable Offense Du Jour. Today the menu selection is spying, via wiretaps, in order to identify terrorists operating in your country and mine. Of course the liberals frame this issue to say that Bush is eavesdropping on America citizens, but that rhetoric is merely anticipated when you consider that good news in the War on Terror, augers poorly for the political future of this bunch. 


Considering all the "bad fruit" previously thrown at Bush, this just seems to be the next episode of the dead end soap opera, which ultimately leads down the path of futility for the 2006 elections.


Let's see now, we had Bush twice stealing the presidential elections; we had him robbing from the poor to enrich the already rich, via the tax reductions; then the "what did he know and when did he know it" incident regarding 9-11 intelligence; then there was Bush lying about WMD's--and let's not forget the "Rathergate" scandal-- the forged (but actually real) documents that wouldn't stick to Bush. Dick Cheney had secret meetings with oil executives to line his own pockets. Just this year we had the Joe Wilson/ Valerie Plame song and dance; the Downing Street Memo became public knowledge; Bush ignoring the Cindy Sheehan soirée protesting in a Texas gulch; Bush causing hurricanes, then blowing-up the levees in New Orleans to boot. Then, of course, Bush told a pack of lies to cover up all these mishaps! By gosh, they are already listening to me when I call my mother on the telephone! When is credibility exhausted?


The latest accusations against Bush aren't playing well with the general public, so I suspect it won't be long before there is a new dish on the menu. Perhaps it will be that Bush should be impeached for nominating Alito for Supreme Court Justice, a judge so far out of the "mainstream" that it's unconscionable.


It might be interesting to see if Senator Ted tells us that in Samuel Alito's America, women will be imprisoned in their kitchens; abortion will be outlawed; storm troopers will break down my doors at midnight, and Brown v. The Board of Education will be repealed. Then while making his apologetic in response to the theater of the absurd, some conservatives will contend that Alito is no "Scalia Lite."


Amazingly, the Bush advisory team never seems to wipe the perspiration from their collective brows, or lets out a sigh of relieve as they barely escape the clutches of the current political pickle. Instead they happily migrate to another political scandal even more outrageous than the last. Or at least that's what we are being told.


One can only wonder if the liberals have heard of the "little boy who cried wolf?" It might be easier to be sympathetic with concerns over civil liberties, if I could believe the whole drama wasn't a dry run for November's elections.


There is precedent for my skepticism. Remember last time around when only presidential hopeful Russ Feingold was the lonely little petunia in the onion patch, voting against the Patriot Act? Why the change of heart on the part of Congress now? Recall the bipartisan support for disarming Saddam, due to the consensus of "overwhelming intelligence" that was "common knowledge" way back when it was a short drive for Bush to get some "R&R" at his dude ranch. Why was the media endlessly fascinated about who "leaked" the identity of a glorified desk jockey at the CIA, but have no little interest in who is the source for the New York Times "spygate" story? How did it happen that the story, shelved for a considerable period of time, made headlines on the same day that renewal of the Patriot Act came up for discussion? Inquiring minds should want to know.


When people say, "Bush broke the law," it sounds to much like "Bush lied" or that we when to war for oil. There doesn't seem to be much concern about learning the details, before making the charges. That smells of Limburger to me. The reason why this isn't playing well is obvious. People believe that the spirit of the Constitution is about protecting the innocent, not inabling and facilitating the guilty. I took it for granted that our government intelligence was doing things like this right along. What is the point of trying to protect this country from another 9-11, if we can't tighten the screws with some extraordinary measures? Again, our problem is seeing the conduct of a war through the same lens as criminal prosecution. Wasn't that the mistake of the prior administration, causing this boil of terrorism to become infected by treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue?


It isn't just liberals dissenting here, so are some staunch constitutionalists that I consider my ideological brethren. But there is room for honest disagreement without the need to yell "heretic," and throw each other off the bridge.


The whole matter comes down to a character issue. Do I believe Bush is a congenital liar? No. Do I think he wants to be King George? Not a chance. In fact, I admire Bush for doing things that put his presidency and personal reputation at risk for the sake of following his principles. The last administration would never have risked their lofty public approval numbers to do something difficult today that could benefit the country long-term.


We may believe that Bush should have gotten warrants from the

FISA Court
. Of course the terrorists probably won't stay on the phone while that process in being undertaken. Should we stake our national security on the whims of a panel of philosopher-kings in dark robes? Will America ever blame a panel of judges, if by their "due diligence," they allow another horrific terrorist act to occur? Maybe--just maybe, that is what worries Bush. We can say that he who trades liberty for security deserves neither--but it is equally certain that he who is dead, has little want of civil liberties. The big problem is that we always remember an evil experienced, but never are aware of an avoided. We can't press a button to view a parallel universe, which reveals what might have happened without these measures.


Of course I could be wrong. I agree that Bush is not an ideal conservative. If Bush violated the law, he must be punished like anyone else. But, you and I both know that this situation isn't going anywhere. Besides, if you really believed Bush was Hitler, you wouldn't be saying some of these things, would you?


 



Robert E. Meyer