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The Worst of Times

According to the New York Times, the NSA is currently to be feared because the NSA currently takes its orders from George W. Bush.

Jan 16, 2006, Vol. 11, No. 17 • By DAVID TELL, FOR THE EDITORS
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It was, of course, through a superabundance of caution about what "might" be a violation in such circumstances that American counterterrorism investigators notoriously failed to monitor certain phone calls and email traffic exchanged by the 9/11 conspirators. And it was to clarify that American counterterrorism investigators should never make such a mistake again that President Bush seems to have signed the NSA surveillance order that's now got everybody's underwear in such a wringer.

James Risen repeatedly calls the program "illegal," but offers not a single word of serious statutory or constitutional analysis to sustain the conclusion. He complains that, "for the first time since the Watergate-era abuses, the NSA is spying on Americans again, and on a large scale"--a reference, once more, to those 500 al Qaeda email buddies he's mentioned, who together represent 1.7 ten-thousandths of one percent of the U.S. population. Shifting gears, Risen next raises alarm over the possibility that NSA could begin domestic spying on a large scale if it wanted to; "there seems to be no physical or logistical obstacle" preventing it at present. Neither does there seem to be any physical or logistical obstacle preventing NSA from sneaking into James Risen's bathroom and stealing his toothbrush, of course. The question remains: Why on earth would they want to?

And the answer seems to remain, as it always ultimately does, that the NSA is currently to be feared because the NSA currently takes its orders from George W. Bush and the "neocons" whom Bush is "controlled by." And these people are demonic.

Among the "most worrisome aspects" of the NSA program, Risen writes, is its place in a much "broader series of policies and procedures" that now "threaten to erode civil liberties in the United States." He mentions but a single example: "In 2002, the U.S. military expanded its role inside the country with the creation of the new Northern Command, the first military command in recent history that is designed to protect the U.S. homeland. The creation of Northern Command has already raised the specter of military intelligence agents operating on U.S. soil, permanently developing new links with local law enforcement agencies, particularly near large military bases."

Imagine: Our military now has a specific assignment to guard and defend the territorial United States, and certain of its base-command officers might eventually establish cordial relations with the police departments in neighboring communities.

God help us all.

- David Tell, for the Editors