Friday, January 19, 2007

Shell Game

As we said yesterday, it's no time for high-fiving over the seeming appearance that the Bush administration has at last agreed to abide by the Constitution and will cease wiretapping American citizens without a court order. Adam Liptak of the New York Times tells us why in more detail:
On Wednesday, the administration announced that an unnamed judge on the secret court, in a nonadversarial proceeding that apparently cannot be appealed, had issued orders that apparently both granted surveillance requests and set out some ground rules for how such requests would be handled.

The details remained sketchy yesterday, but critics of the administration said they suspected that one goal of the new arrangements was to derail lawsuits challenging the program in conventional federal courts.

“It’s another clear example,” said Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, “of the government playing a shell game to avoid accountability and judicial scrutiny.”
Adding to suspicions is the fact that the administration hasn't agreed to release the FISA court order which Attorney General Gonzalez cited shortly before testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, even though the FISA court says it would have no objection. Gonzalez' answer to the bi-partisan demand for a copy of the order?
"That's a decision that I would like to take back to my principal."
Whoa! As Attorney General, Gonzalez' "principal" is the American public.

Florida's own Pierre Tristam, writing in his daily Candide's Notebooks, has more.
The notion that the administration will continue to spy on Americans and foreigners as zealously as it has since 2001 isn’t a matter of cynicism, it isn’t a conclusion arrived at by mistrust, but by the logic of the administration’s own precedents and public pronouncements.
There's only one thing to add: can't you see that same grotesque fealty to ideology leading, if it hasn't already, to an administrative "out-sourcing" of the wiretap program? Privatizing the NSA spying program on Americans to a corporate 'partner', and thus removing it from the purview of all branches of government before the 2008 elections, would be so like the Bush Administration.

Anyone care to guess who would pick up the contract?

One thing seems certain, as Media Matters documents. The vast majority of journalists covering the NSA wiretapping story have been fooled into losing track of the pea beneath the shell.

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