Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Neurotic Mind of George W. Bush

I love espionage, surveillance, & skullduggery. So I enjoyed the NYTimes' book review of James Bamford's The Shadow Factory this weekend. For my money, the best piece of information is that the NSA is sub-contracting spy-ops out to private corporations (just like the US military subcontracts out to Blackwater). Also, if you need reminding:

"The administration's core argument... is that it's vital to prevent another 9/11. But in a ferocious, detailed attack... Bamford argues that the NSA in 2000 & 2001 had not only the means but also the actual information necessary to prevent the attacks on New York and Washington.
The agency had been monitoring communcations out of an Al Qaeda command center in Yemen, & those had pointed squarely to the presence of two key plotters in California. Yet [head of the NSA Michael] Hayden at that moment didn't want to risk any semblance of monitoring people in the United States, even though there was plenty of latitude to tap those two terrorists under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)."

So the NSA could legally have planted a wire, but they didn't want to seem like they were spying within the US. After 9/11, they not only illegally tapped telecommunications lines but they also demanded a new set of laws, arguing that FISA had failed.

Ironies like this make me see neurosis, not arrogance, in the Bush Administration's scofflaw attitude towards the Constitution. They do blame themselves for not stopping the 2001 attacks (though most of the country seems not to). So they over-compensate for the error, both clandestinely & brazenly. They have to prove to themselves how far they'll go & how much they'll sacrifice to prevent another terrorist attack. If the ramifications weren't so dire, the over-reaction would be pathetic.

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