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What's the real message?

Monday, December 19, 2005
This morning, the President addressed the nation in an attempt to refocus our thinking on the elections in Iraq and clarify this whole "spying on American citizens" issue that just came up. The full text of his speech is here, but I'd like to address a few points that he made in this speech.

As president and commander in chief, I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country. Article 2 of the Constitution gives me that responsibility and the authority necessary to fulfill it.

Now I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever studied constitutional law. Nonetheless, looking at Article 2, I I don't see a lot written in depth about protecting the country or spying on the citizen, but I do see one line that says: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill our American citizens.

"For as long as we face the continuing threat..." That very sentence implies that there is no end to this fear we must live under that terrorists may strike us anywhere. That is a mandate to do whatever as long as this unseen threat exists.
This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program.

Interestingly, that means that the "Leaders of Congress" (whoever that may be) has been briefed on this less than once every four months since September, 2001. Just a little perspective...
Most of the senators now filibustering the Patriot Act actually voted for it in 2001. These senators need to explain why they thought the Patriot Act was a vital tool after the September the 11th attacks but now think it's no longer necessary.

Because some of us are capable of changing our minds and re-evaluating circumstances given new data. Because with 4 more years of new data on the table perhaps a less reactionary path.
The terrorists want to strike America again. And they hope to inflict even greater damage than they did on September the 11th.

Fear, fear, fear...
Despite hurricanes and high gas prices, third-quarter growth was 4.3 percent.

What is this, the State of the Union? And how much of that third-quarter growth is from oil and gas companies?
We were wise with taxpayers' money and cut nonsecurity discretionary spending below last year's level.

First off, this isn't the State of the Union address. And which spending is more discretionary? Almost a trillion dollars invading another country or education, health care, roads, and social security for the very American citizens the President says he has to protect? And did overall spending go up or down? Protection is more than phyiscal security, Mr. President.

Interestingly, President Bush had a Q & A session after his speech. Here are some more excerpts from his responses.
And you brought up something that I want to stress, and that is is that these calls are not intercepted within the country, they are from outside the country to in the country or vice versa.

Are the calls intercepted within our country or not? I mean, are we monitoring OUR phone lines or their phones lines when they call us? The "vice versa" implies that the are originating in our country going out, so we have to be intercepting them here...

This is not to say that I'm completely critical of the administration; I just don't like feeling like an untrusted child. I don't like being told to not look behind the curtain. I don't like "protection" that may rob me of my civil liberties. I want more transparency in my government, and the attitude of "The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy" isn't one that placates me.

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