07 May 2006

Like shooting fish in a barrel

I keep thinking that the Bush administration can’t surprise me anymore. After all, the list is already so long that the outrages at the bottom dropped off and disappeared long ago.

But, damn. They just keep proving me wrong. Almost every week – even every day – this false-faced, wicked gang of orcs does something else that leaves my mouth hanging open, feeling like I’ve been sucker-punched.

What is it this time? Hayden. President Bush is expected to name General Michael V. Hayden, deputy director of national intelligence, as his nominee for Director of Central Intelligence. Porter Goss, the previous DCI, resigned suddenly just two days ago without explanation. Goss called the reason for his ouster another of "those mysteries." Snickering into his hand, no doubt.

Does anyone else get a shiver down their spines at the thought of a military general in charge of the CIA? Does this thought not bring up the dark specter of the Soviet KGB? Yeah, that KGB. The one that spied on the Russian people for decades, arresting them, running them through kangaroo courts and then tossing them into prison for years and years, sometimes for what was left of their lives. Does anyone remember the Gulag? The Lubyanka?

Hayden is not just any general – though it wouldn’t matter if he was. The CIA is a civilian agency. But Hayden was in charge of the National Security Agency (NSA) after Sept. 11, 2001. He has been a vocal supporter of Bush’s personal interpretation of the Constitution, which he feels is just fine with illegal, warrantless wiretapping (read “spying”) conducted against U.S. citizens in their own country. Hayden is a proud supporter of a president who feels perfectly free to break the laws of the land. After all, Bush is the Commander in Chief. The Emperor.

His Imperial Majesty, King George the Decider.

From today's
Washington Post:

“Bush was especially impressed with Hayden's unrelenting public defense of the surveillance program, which began under his direction at the NSA after Sept. 11. Under the program, the NSA monitors telephone calls and e-mail between the United States and overseas when one participant is suspected of links to terrorists. The administration asserted that it did not need court approval because of the president's inherent war powers, but critics on the left and right said the program violated the law.

“In speeches, briefings and congressional hearings, Hayden said that the program was necessary for more “agility” in combating an elusive, underground enemy and that obtaining warrants would be impractical, even though the law permits intelligence tapping for 72 hours before getting court approval.”

“Bush was especially impressed.”

Well, hot damn. Why not? After all, this is the U.S. President who, when asked by the weekly German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, published today, what his best moment has been during his more than five years in office, said:

“You know, I’ve experienced many great moments and it’s hard to name the best ... I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Hayden, on Jan. 23, 2006 at the National Press Club:

Gen. Michael Hayden refused to answer questions about spying on political enemies at the National Press Club. At a public appearance, Bush’s pointman in the Office of
National Intelligence was asked if the NSA was wiretapping Bush’s political enemies. When Hayden dodged the question, the questioner repeated, "No, I asked, are you targeting us and people who politically oppose the Bush government, the Bush administration? Not a fishing net, but are you targeting specifically political opponents of the Bush administration?" Hayden looked at the questioner, and after a silence called on a different questioner.

Emphasis mine.

You know something? I don't, I really don't, feel any safer today than on Sept. 10, 2001. So if you'll excuse me, I’ve a dust bunny convention to attend to under my bed. Oh, and what I said about “United 93”? No change whatsoever in my opinion.

(warm fuzzies to www.firedoglake.com)

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