Saturday, December 17, 2005

There’s an enemy that lurks

Yesterday, in a News Hour interview I’ve just caught up with, Bush refused to confirm the existence of illegal surveillance, “and the reason why is that there’s an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we’re trying to do to stop them.”. And this made all sorts of sense, because clearly the Enemy That Lurks wouldn’t cease discussing their nefarious plans and dastardly lurkery on the telephone just because they read on the front page of the New York Times that such conversations were being intercepted; no, they’d wait until the president of the United States confirmed the story. Terrorists don’t believe what they read in the newspapers, but they do take the word of George W. Bush as gospel.

So imagine my surprise today when Bush used his weekly address
on the talking-type wireless to take responsibility for having ordered just such a program of interception. Doesn’t he remember that there’s an enemy that lurks? He didn’t make his grand confession without taking a few swipes at those who “improperly provided” the story to the media, and the media who reported on it, eventually. “As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk.” Tut tut tut. “Revealing classified information is illegal. It alerts our enemies.” By which I assume he means the New York Times.

He assured us that the only people whose rights were violated had “known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations” and that there were reviews every 45 days or so by our nation’s top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President.” Alberto and Harriet, those crack legal eagles. Swell.

He demonstrated the necessity of such surveillance by citing how the 9/11 hijackers had communicated with each other and with others outside the country. Yeah, but they also took over planes with pen-knives, but no one would expect to get away with that after 9/11 either. Bush said he plans to continue authorizing the program as long as there was a single bad person anywhere in the world.

Back to the McNeil-Lehrer interview. He seems to say that he never got an estimate for casualties, either American (excuse me, “coalition”) or Iraqi, before making the decision to invade. “I knew there would be casualties. I never tried to guess.” Nevertheless, “I’ll never forget making the decision in the Situation Room [or possibly making the situation in the Decision Room], and it affected me. I mean, it was -- I got up out of the chair and walked around the South Lawn there”. Whooa, dude, enough with the girly-girly emotions! This ain’t Oprah!
We run a danger of trying to say the casualties are less than other wars or more than expected. It’s just everybody matters, every person matters, and what really matters is having the strategy and the will to make sure any death is not -- is honored by achieving an objective.
Sure, one dead, 2,100 dead, 30,000 dead, 100,000 dead, same dif.
Nor do I think you don’t sit around in a planning session and say, gosh, I wonder how many-- how many people are going to die because of suicide bombers or because of politics or-- I know this, that when we went in we had a plan to target the guilty and spare the innocent and with our precision weaponry and a military that is a humane group of people that we did a good job of that.
Target the guilty. Bush not only thinks he has the power to see into people’s souls, he thinks his rockets can too.

Says that when he said on Fox about Tom DeLay,
HUME: Do you just — do you believe he’s innocent?

BUSH: Do I? Yes, I do.
what he was conveying “is that people are innocent till proven otherwise.” Quite right, in this country we determine guilt or innocence through precision weapons, as set down in the Constitution.

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