Supressed News

Sunday, July 16, 2006

POLICE STATE: Was 9/11 the Administration's Carte Blanche?

For the sake of keeping your private information private, there is no question that Americans have lived in a different world since 9/11. The FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and Vice President’s office have the rights and the wherewithal to figure out what you’re up to on a day-to-day basis, be it terrorism or ping-pong. If your last name suggests you may be Muslim, no one would blame you for restricting your phone calls to family members and pizza orders.

This is the new America.

How did we get here? Three thousand deaths demand a swift political response and intelligence overhaul, and Bush has certainly re-shaped the intelligence community in his image. The question is, did 9/11 give the current Administration carte blanche in dealing with terrorism, civil liberties and, well, everything else?

The answer is yes. Congress helped them at the outset, but the Administration has been on its own in the last two years. Regardless, they’ve been winning.

Six weeks after 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed by the House of Representatives, Senate and signed by President Bush in a span of three days. The new law allowed the government to search library records, tap phones and take other previously banned measures with vague justification. Congress members made the critical mistake of thinking that it could help reconstitute a shaken America by rubber-stamping the Patriot Act when the real way to reconstitute America, as Feingold suggested in his brilliant dissenting argument, was to retain our standards of privacy while we investigated possible terrorist leads.

Next, there was the little matter of invading Afghanistan, and when that didn’t work out as well as we wanted, next came Iraq.

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The invasion of Iraq worked for the Administration because even if we weren’t invading the right country for any of the right reasons, at least we were doing something. President Bush put Congress in an awkward position: green light the Iraq war, or appear impotent. And nobody wants that, so Democrats signed on with their tails between their legs. It was a bad decision then. It’s a worse one now, and it was another step that enabled the Administration to push its dubious policies.

Capitol_2 We’re no Bush lovers, but let’s be fair. This was Congress’ doing, the fault of our elected representatives over our non-elected President. They could have stopped him. They didn’t.

The Congress signed off on the carte blanche.

Inauguration Day 2005, however, was Bush's last good day of the presidency. Long-shelved concerns over the war and movements within his own party toward the 2008 Presidency quickly caught up with him. Congress put away the rubber stamp, but the Administration seems not to have noticed.

The Supreme Court laid the smack down on the Adminstration last month when it ruled against the Guantanamo detention facilities, where our government locked up anyone they pleased on suspicion of terrorism (which is to say, anything they say). Life happens in real real time to real people, like 43-year-old Laid Saidi, an Algerian formerly living in Tanzania, who told the New York Times that he was tortured, then held for 16 months in Afghanistan because American officials did not realize that, in phone conversations with his family, he spoke of “tirat” – tires – and not “tirayat,” the Arabic word for planes.

We’ll never know what would have happened without 9/11, but it doesn’t matter. All we know for sure is that the Administration has had token opposition to its wartime policies until the Supreme Court decision last month, even as Bush’s approval ratings have fallen to record lows. They do what they want, even if no one else wants them to do it.


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