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Bush Admin. - Shoot The Messenger / Shoot Own Foot

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One of the top stories this week involves the New York Times (NYT), as well as several other major media outlets, having published a story about the Bush Administration's 'secret' banking surveillance program. Of course... they're only snooping for terrorist's banking transactions... or so we're led to believe.

When I first heard the story, I was a little concerned about whether the government was obtaining warrants and implementing this terrorist surveillance program within the law. After all, we've heard plenty about the government's eavesdropping on our phone conversations & email withOUT obtaining warrants (the burden of exhibiting 'probable cause', as the Bill of Rights dictates), and we've heard about their data-banking of phone records. Now, here's yet another 'secret' surveillance program we're led to believe is keeping us save from terrorism.

But then the story morphed into an attack on the media as the Bush Administration (and their lock-step Hound Dogs*) went after the New York Times for 'leaking' the story of this 'secret' terrorist surveillance program. How dare the NYT compromise national security and inform the public! So, here's my take on this issue....

Wasn't So Secret

The Bush Administration never hid the fact that they were fighting the 'war on terrorism' in many different ways, and Bush himself said publicly many times that he would use "...every means necessary..." to wage this 'war on terrorism', including the attack on terrorist funding & banking. This footage from Keith Olberman's Countdown certainly gets that point across. So, where's the breach in national security when the NYT published what everyone already knew? Did NYT let-the-cat-out-of-the-bag that Bush was monitoring specifically SWIFT transactions? Did the terrorists NOT know that Bush was monitoring specifically SWIFT transactions?

Gimme a break. This was no secret revelation, this was not 'classified' information, and the terrorists didn't learn anything new that would be considered endangering our national security. Who am I to determine what's classified, and what's not? I'm certainly not qualified to determine that. But Victor Comras is. He's a retired diplomat and a consultant on terrorism financing:

"I can understand why people are upset when any classified information is leaked, but I wouldn't call this a major damage to our national security or to the war on terror.... A terrorist would have to be pretty dumb not to know that this was happening."

And speaking of what's classified and what's not...

Again, I'm no expert on what is or isn't classified. But 'splain me this... Why is it that many of Reagan's and George Herbert Walker Bush's presidency's records are classified? And why are many of George W. Bush's records from before he was Governor of Texas classified? Why are Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force records all classified?

There's no secret that this Administration is THE most secretive in history. I think that the litmus test of 'classified' is more a matter of whether it will embarrass the Bush Administration, rather than whether it will endanger national security.

And speaking of leaks that compromise our national security...

Oh yes.... you knew I was going to get to Valerie Plame, didn't you? If you reeeeeeealy want to indict those who leaked classified information that compromised our national security, you HAVE to go after the Bush Administration for the outing of Valerie Plame. Ms. Plame was a deep cover CIA agent (a NOC in Mission Impossible terms) who was working on WMD's. As we all know, the Bush Administration leaked her undercover identity as a retaliatory action against her husband - Joseph Wilson - for his OpEd publication exposing the administration's pre-war intelligence fabrications.

This, ladies & gentlemen, is a true compromise of our national security. Please feel free to read my article of July 15, 2005 which articulates that in detail. The Bush Administration compromised Valerie Plame, every agent ever associated with Valerie Plame, her under-cover front company - Brewster Jennings, every agent ever associated with Brewster Jennings, AND most importantly, the mission she was on, which involved WMD's in the Middle East. Talk about a breach in national security - this one's the Whopper!

So, go ahead Bushies... keep shooting the messenger. Continue to attack the New York Times for exercising the First Amendment's freedom of the press. We didn't notice that you've been decimating the Constitution, breaking all sorts of laws, and turning our country into a fascist state. We didn't notice that you've been invading our privacy, draining our treasury, and destroying our democracy. We didn't notice the utter hypocrisy in how you blamed the New York Times for 'leaking' something that wasn't a classified secret or anywhere's near a compromise in national security, long after you leaked something that certainly was a classified secret and certainly did compromise our national security.

Well... maybe some people didn't notice.

But I did.

* My apologies to Hound Dogs everywhere. I didn't mean to insult you by comparing you to vermin the likes of O'Reilly, Hannity, Carlson, Limbaugh, & Coulter.
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Scott Shuster is a progressive columnist, publishing since May of 2005. His liberal ideology is a refreshing diversion from 'politics as usual' in Washington.
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