Casual American citizens are inundated 24 X 7 X 365 by big corporate media. The bottom line with these corporate entites is profits. In the past news departments were insulated from the profit driven centers of corporations, but that distinction has ceased to exist. The result is that news today is presented as “info-tainment”. It is our responsiblity as informed and involved citizens to counter disinformation whenever we encounter it. Local newspapers and local media outlets are the proper place to start “setting the record straight”. Here is my response to an editorial that appeared today in The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle:

Yes, Democrats and others are critical of President Bush because he failed to pay attention to threat warnings before 9-11. The Augusta Chronicle says in an editorial posted below that Bush is being criticized for failure to connect the dots. Yes! However, the Augusta Chronicle editorial writer misses the point again. The government agencies had the dots. They didn’t connect them. They don’t need only more dots. They need to interpret the intelligence information they have. Translation of intercepts were not done in a timely manner. Intercepts that indicated an imminent attack lay untranslated until after 9/11 happened.

More spying does not guarantee more intelligence. The FBI says almost all “hot leads” from NSA domestic intercepts have been dead ends. Vice President Cheney says “thousands” of plots have been foiled. There is no evidence that any plot worthy of the name has been foiled unless you think some guy’s hairbrained plan to take down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch counts as a credible plot. Giving up our freedoms to the national security state will not make us safer. Here is what President Bush can do to start making this country safer:

1. President Bush can announce that the United States will not establish permanent military bases in Iraq and will withdraw U.S. troops immediately.

2. President Bush can renounce the Bush doctrine which says this country reserves the right to attack any other country which the President determines may pose a threat to this country sometime in the future. This doctrine of “pre-emptive” or “preventive warfare” is against international law.

3. President Bush can reaffirm U.S. support for international institutions, respect for international law, and seek international cooperation instead of unilateral military actions.

The United States has the same right to self-defense that all nations do. I see this as rooted in natural law. By expressing respect for other countries’ right to self-defense the U.S. will be on a better legal footing. We certainly have the right to defend and prevent terrorism. Others in the world have the right of self-determination. If the U.S. abides by our own and international legal norms, we will be in a better position to insist on respect for human rights, basic freedoms, equality before the law, justice, international cooperation, nuclear non-proliferation, and a more peaceful and prosperous world. The alternative of “a long war” (a 20 year battle against terrorism) will not produce the desired results. Militarism and fascism are bigger threats to this democracy than Al Qaeda. The biggest danger of trying to deal with terrorism through military action alone is that we will forfeit our freedoms and lose international support and security. That is a lose-lose situation. We have more valid options that intelligent and prudent leaders need to present to the American people. In the deepest sense this is not a partisan issue.

Democrat critics are no help

Democrat critics are no help | Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
Sunday, February 5, 2006

When it comes to al-Qaida and Iran, President Bush can’t win for losing.

First al-Qaida. Bush’s Democratic critics blamed 9-11 on him when the intelligence community failed to “connect the dots” that might have led to the arrest or detention of some of the jihadist hijackers before they killed nearly 3,000 innocent people.

Since the 2001 tragedy, the president has been using the intelligence agencies in ways that could connect the dots. And well he should, given Osama bin Laden’s stark warning last week.

But partisan Democrats, and even some Republicans, are jumping all over the president for unlawfully “spying” on American citizens because he didn’t obtain a court warrant, as required by the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed in the wake of Watergate.

Some Bush foes, such as defeated presidential rival Sen. John Kerry, darkly hint at serious criminality and possible impeachment.

Ridiculous. At most, this is an old-fashioned separation-of-powers tiff that will be debated by constitutional lawyers and decided in the courts. It’s about process, not criminality.

As explained by Gen. Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency director and currently the government’s No.2 intelligence official, the NSA surveillance is necessary to intercept U.S.-based communications with suspected al-Qaida operatives abroad.

“Had this program been in effect prior to 9-11,” Hayden told the National Press Club, “it is my… judgment that we would have detected some of the al-Qaida operatives in the United States.”

The constitutionality of the program was carefully researched by White House, Justice Department and NSA attorneys, said Hayden, and all concluded that no FISA warrant was required. Congressional lawyers might disagree, but there’s no evidence that Bush is unlawfully employing a domestic spying network to expand his presidential powers. That notion is just plain nonsense.


The loyal opposition is supposed to offer constructive criticism. It’s part of the democratic process, and can be helpful to the nation and even to the ruling party. But blind, partisan opposition where the president is condemned no matter what he does is neither loyal, constructive nor helpful. It is un-American and undermines the credibility of the critics more than it does the president.

Democrats ought to keep that in mind as they head toward November.
From the Monday, February 6, 2006 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle

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