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In Pursuit of Power

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Message Jayne Stahl
Just when he thought it was safe to come out of his cave, the National Security Agency, previously busy eavesdropping on thousands of Internet, and cell phone, conversations of ordinary Americans for the past five years, announced that it is finally able to trace the cell phone from which bin Laden's video appears to have been made. (AP) Well, not really. In fact, about the only thing the NSA has been able to trace is its own ineptitude which presents itself magnificently in the high drama Houdini escape of Al Qaeda's finest.

Funny thing, we may not remember when Osama last appeared live, but he does, right before the mid-term election in 2004, and right around the time Congress finalized the USA Patriot Act which, you'll recall, was intended to keep U.S. safe from bin Ladens, and other radioactive madmen. Fat chance. As a federal judge in New York decided yesterday, about all the Patriot Act accomplished was to ensure the continuity of this administration's gang rape of the First and Fourth Amendments.

How appropriate that the president's enemy twin, who has managed to elude capture for about as long as we've been occupying Iraq, should invite American heathen to "embrace Islam." What a dynamic duo, these two Apocalypso dancers; what an unlikely team, an American president and the leader of Al Qaeda, both of whom "embrace" kamikaze rapture, and an ideology designed to inflate when the futility of militarism becomes obvious. Indeed, why doesn't the president invite Osama to join the Christian brothers in the 82nd Airborne? Different ideologies; same appetites.

And, who better to keep track of Mr. Bush's approval ratings than Mr. bin Laden? Except, of course, for Mr. Cheney. Who better than Osama to devise an exit strategy for Iraq? Arguably, the gravest threat this video poses is to show that, while we in the states have been feasting on the Larry Craig headlines, Osama has been reading Noam Chomsky. Wouldn't we be in better shape if John Ashcroft, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney had read Chomsky first!

While Al Qaeda's leader may have been in freeze frame for nearly four minutes, (AP) no technical problems have been detected when, on Wednesday, the National Security Archives, an independent think-tank in Washington, D.C., announced its suit against the White House seeking to recover "more than 5 million" e-mails from executive branch computers which were deleted between the spring of 2003 and the fall of 2005, right around the time of the midterm elections; right around the time bin Laden last appeared; right around the time Iraq was invaded, and Katrina evaded. (NSA)

National Security Archive director, Tom Blanton, pulls no punches when he asserts that "The Bush White House broke the law and erased our history by deleting those e-mail messages." But, can one sue, or press criminal charges, against a sitting president, or an elected official? Would not such an action require their removal, voluntary or otherwise, from office? Isn't that among the many reasons Alberto Gonzales had to step down, as we now know, so that the Justice Department can look into its options vis a vis prosecuting him on charges of perjury, and obstruction of justice.

What happens when the executive branch attempts to neutralize the judiciary? What happens when there are no longer any boundaries between the attorney-general and the president; when checks and balances become victims of planned obsolescence? When the Bill of Rights is sent to recovery, and the Constitution is seen as if it were a 12 step program instead of a blueprint for democracy.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero's response, in New York, yesterday was to demand that a court approve any governmental request for Internet records without first informing customers. There must be more federal judges like Marrero who come forward, and stop this administration's unfettered attempt at warrantless surveillance of ordinary American citizens in the name of a war on terror which any idiot can see could clearly be won if this president, and his homeboys, did a little target practice.

What a scary world when America's most wanted fugitive spends more time talking about global warming, and failed foreign policy than our own chief executive. Moreover, bin Laden, a man who comes from among the world's richest countries, and families, entreats us to "liberate" ourselves "from the deception, shackles, and attrition of the capitalist system.," (AP) and does so in a way that would make Marx blush with envy. While his nemesis, on the other hand, still thinks Marx is something one gets in school.

Don't you wish "To Tell the Truth" was still on the air, so we could ask: will the real lunatic please stand up! Why is the obvious always the toughest thing to see, how it is that we are all victims of those who, in pursuit of power, strive to dehumanize in the name of ideology.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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