On Wednesday, President Bush arrogantly threatened Congress with his pudgy stubborn finger and demanded that it pass immunity for telecommunications giants from the south lawn of the White House.
On the same day, House Democrats passed an extension of the wiretapping program that Bush had illegally pursued before the New York Times caught him red-handed. One little problem: despite their pathetic capitulation to extend the surveillance program, House Democrats held firm against a Republican proposal to distribute white-collar get-out-of-jail-free cards to the telecommunications industry.
As he threatened Democrats to adopt immunity for the telecommunications giants, Bush--for the 1,768th time--dug up the corpses of the dead men and women who died on September 11, and used their horrifying confrontation with death to advance his political agenda.
"Will [Congress]...limit our ability to collect this intelligence and keep us safe, staying a step ahead of the terrorists who want to attack us?" President Bush asked, as if there weren't grave warnings out of Minneapolis and from George Tenet about the impending 9/11 attacks that Bush and senior FBI officials suppressed and ignored.
Tenet could not even sleep because "there was such a huge volume of data" on terrorist activity and warning signs. Tenet couldn't get Bush to do anything "because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had questioned all the National Security Agency intercepts and other intelligence." Rumsfeld stopped the CIA from preventing September 11.
Bush pressed on, saving the direct 9/11 reference for the telecommunications immunity plea in his speech: "[The wiretapping legislation] must grant liability protection to companies who are facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks."
Firefighter Eric Allen charged into the World Trade Center that sunny morning governed only by the impulse to do good, to save, to rescue. He lived like all men live, a subject to his own unique and ever-varying opinions. He died for his country, a hero, but the eternal peace due heroes eludes Allen six years after its merit. Not a week goes by when Eric Allen doesn't charge into that World Trade Center all over again on unpaid overtime for the Bush administration and its corporate agenda.
Eleven-year-old Asia Cottom hadn't even developed her own mature political opinions when the plane she was flying in was hijacked and flown at 500 miles-an-hour into the Pentagon, yet that child has engineered political victories for the Bush administration without so much as a nap since the towers fell.
On Wednesday the House rejected Bush's appeal for immunity for the telecommunications industry. Republicans argue that this will deter "any companies from cooperating with intelligence agencies" in the future. Wrong. It will deter any companies from knowingly breaking the law and violating its customers' trust.
Moreover, the House legislation gives Bush more than enough authority to eavesdrop, but that's only Bush's pretext. He doesn't give a damn about thwarting a terrorist attack. This is political. Bush wants lawlessness in the executive branch. He wants immunity for the telecommunications industry. Hell, the old FISA laws gave him enough latitude to do what was necessary to protect this country, and they're not enough. This isn't about thwarting terrorists.
The final outcome of this bill now seems to be in the hands of Senate Democrats. The track record of the Senate is pathetic, stretching back to January. Democrats failed to change course in Iraq. They allowed Republicans to condemn MoveOn.org for their "General Betray Us" ad, and only 41 Democrats signed a letter condemning Rush Limbaugh, who shortly afterwards compared an anti-war American soldier to a suicide bomber.
Some senate Democrats seem to hope to continue their track record of posing as liberals only to pass legislation for Big Business and the Bush administration. It's absolutely pathetic that they will even approve the extension of a lawless program that dangerously enhances the power of the executive branch.
If Democrats do fail us again, Eric Allen, Asia Cottom, and 3,000 other victims of the September 11th attacks will have once again unwillingly slaved for the same Bush administration that failed to prevent their untimely deaths in the first place.