According to the May 22, Washington Post: "Near the diplomatic outpost was a CIA installation where about two dozen intelligence and security personnel were based. Their mission was to track weapons shipments out of the country and to identify the numerous militias operating in Benghazi. Security at this annex was the responsibility of the CIA, not the State Department. But because the annex operated under diplomatic cover, its existence as an intelligence facility was classified. "We had some new members on the committee, and we knew the press would be very aggressive on this, so we didn't want any of them to make mistakes,' Representative C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.) said last week of his request in an account supported by Republican participants. "We didn't want to jeopardize sources and methods, and we didn't want to tip off the bad guys. That's all.'" "The only government entity that did not object to the detailed talking points produced with Petraeus's input was the White House which played the role of mediator in the bureaucratic fight that at various points included the CIA's top lawyer and the agency's deputy director expressing opposition to what the director wanted."
Congratulations, Republicans, just like "outing" Valerie Plame, you've uncovered another C.I.A. cover-up, jeopardized sources and methods, and tipped off the bad guys. That's all.
And now, the A.P. phone "scandal":
Last week's article disposing of President Obama's Benghazi "scandal," generated a heated exchange on your Daily Republic website. It seems there are a plethora of people in Fairfield who have invested a lot of time and emotional energy in this "scandal" and don't appreciate having their bubbles popped. One person took offense to my using the term, "disposed of," and wondered why Fox hasn't contacted me to explain it to them. Well, Fox makes a lot of money keeping gullible people entertained with these stories and facts tend to cause them to implode. So, this week, let's dispose of Obama's Associated Press "scandal."
In response to the events of September 11th, 2001, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to launch a secret, warrantless wiretap program on American citizens while Congress passed a series of "Patriot," security, and surveillance acts and authorizations, all ostensibly intended to help thwart future terrorist attacks. In this grand, Faustian bargain, we Americans gave up some of our rights and protections in exchange for the promise of added security that increased surveillance would provide. From 2001 to today, we have all been watched and listened to considerably more closely. In the past dozen years, communication monitoring has blossomed from room 641-A in a San Francisco AT&T office building, into a major, nation-wide industry. According to the Washington Post, the National Security Agency alone collects over 1.7 billion emails, phone calls, and other electronic messages every day. This was all being done secretly until a New York Times exposÃ©, forced the B Bush Administration to admit that, in the name of "national security," they had been wiretapping America without warrants. Congress scrambled and passed the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 which gave U.S. telecommunication corporations immunity "retroactively" for illegally allowing the government to monitor our calls and emails.
Since this initial trampling of American privacy rights was done under George W. Bush's administration, the howls of protest came mostly from Progressives, with Conservatives basically insisting that they were unpatriotic, terrorist-loving scum. But since Barrack Obama became President, these howls are now also coming from the right. Personal privacy may be one issue where the right and left can join hands and march forward together toward a shared ideal. Kumbaya!
Unfortunately, your "do-nothing" Congress, in a rare show of unity and in a remarkably unpublicized event, passed a five-year extension to the FISA Amendment Act last year and President Obama signed it, ensuring we will all continue to have our phone calls listened to, our internet searches documented, and our texts and emails read, without cause or judicial authorization, until 2018. If you thought your U.S. Supreme Court would never allow such an unconstitutional infringement upon our rights, you are mistaken. The Supreme Court refused to hear an A.C.L.U. lawsuit against the F.I.S.A. Amendment, letting stand the lower court decision allowing it. Step by step, we edge ever closer to Dick Nixon's Orwellian vision: "When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."
None of the foregoing discussion has anything to do with President Obama's Associated Press phone record "scandal." The Justice Department says they subpoenaed phone records to plug a national security leak and the AP claims this action will chill their reporters' relationship with their sources, which is bad for all of us. Both parties make valid points. Fortunately, these records are simply a list of dates and phone numbers just like your phone bill and not the reporters' private conversations with their sources. Those conversations, however, were undoubtedly recorded by the National Security Agency, and that, dear reader, is the real scandal.
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