New, Troubling Questions Over Bush Domestic Spying

Newsweek adds a new troubling twist to the controversy over the Bush administration’s warrantless spying. It reports that even then-Attorney General John Ashcroft would not authorize the spying sought by the administration:

On one day in the spring of 2004, White House chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a bedside visit to John Ashcroft, attorney general at the time, who was stricken with a rare and painful pancreatic disease, to try—without success—to get him to reverse his deputy, Acting Attorney General James Comey, who was balking at the warrantless eavesdropping. Miffed that Comey, a straitlaced, by-the-book former U.S. attorney from New York, was not a “team player” on this and other issues, President George W. Bush dubbed him with a derisive nickname, “Cuomo,” after Mario Cuomo, the New York governor who vacillated over running for president in the 1980s. (The White House denies this; Comey declined to comment.)

There’s a few things troubling in this paragraph from a piece that tries to present both sides (see below): (1) Because Comey wouldn’t go along with the President’s desires he was basically labeled by the President a Democrat within his heart. So, if you don’t agree with everything the President says you MUST be a closet Democrat? (2) It’s clear it was no dice when the Bush administration went to James Comey so the administration tried to end-run him and go higher up. (3) When even its ATTORNEY GENERAL REFUSED, the administration then did what what it sought to do anyway…without going to a court.

If this was so justified in doing as warrantless wiretaps, then, why did they bother to go to Comey or Ashcroft in the first place?

What is chilling is that it is, on a much smaller scale, reminiscent of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal during the Saturday Night Massacre. We are not pointing this out to draw parallels in this case between the two actual scandals. Rather, Nixon couldn’t get officials to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox so he kept asking until found one who would. So the issue here is: was there truly an intent to seek an opinion and get permission or was it decided that, no matter what, the President and his closest advisors would decide what was legal?

What could this have been that even John Ashcroft — who could never be accused of being soft on terrorism and not striving to give the government any conceivable tool to combat it, even if existing laws had to be changed — refused to sign on to it? Newsweek fleshes this out:

In a perfect democracy trying to strike a balance between civil liberties and national security, there would be reasoned, open debate between representatives of the different branches of government. But human nature and politics rarely work in neat and orderly ways. In moments of crisis, presidents, if they believe in executive power (and most inevitably do), will do almost anything to protect the country. Only after the crisis ebbs does the debate begin over the proper means and ends, and by then the people and their representatives are often shocked to find out what the president has done in the name of protecting them. More than four years after September 11, America finds itself debating some of the oldest issues in our history: how to balance liberty and security, how much power we should cede to the White House and whether what the historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. dubbed “The Imperial Presidency” amid Watergate is a good thing, a bad thing or something in between. That the war on terror is unconventional and seemingly endless adds to the difficulty and raises the stakes.

After 9/11, President Bush and his top advisers faced, they believed, a mortal yet invisible enemy. The mightiest armed forces in the world were not effective against such a shadowy foe. Nor were human spies much help. Movies and novels notwithstanding, the CIA had rarely (if ever) penetrated a terrorist cell. America’s one true weapon was technology. Spy satellites and the massive computers of the National Security Agency (so secret it was nicknamed “No Such Agency”) were able to pluck telephone and e-mail conversations out of the air and ether. The NSA could cock a giant ear to America’s enemies — and, ideally, overhear their plots.

The problem in 2006 is going to be this: this administration has so damaged its credibility on so many other issues that its protestations about “trust us” doesn’t cut it with many Americans anymore. It’s difficult for non-governmental, let alone government, individuals to regain credibility. It must be re-earned. And it’s hard to regain it if the answer is “trust me” or “we can’t tell you” or “if you ask any more you’ll be helping the terrorists.”

It’s no surprise that Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer would call for more Senate investigations. But now conservative William Safire has broken ranks with the Bush administration on this issue.

Is this the start of defections from Republican libertarians — the kind of Republicans who embraced the ideals of the late Barry Goldwater, versus the Bush wing that, despite its rhetoric, comes down on the side of big GOP government with expanded executive powers?

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush defends his actions:

“This NSA program is an important program protecting Americans,” Bush said after visiting wounded troops at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. “We’re at war.”

Bush said the program limited to “a few numbers” called by known al Qaeda members outside the United States.

“If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we’d like to know why,” Bush said.

Fair enough: but it still doesn’t answer the core question as to the legality of what was done and WHY it was done…and why even Ashcroft wouldn’t sanction it.

Those who assume that this administration has had a great track record on its explanations to Congress, the American people, its own GOP elected representatives (not just on the war but during Hurricane Katrina), then what Bush is offering — an ASSURANCE is enough. Those who think the administration’s track record has been flawed or downright poor will demand assurances.

But someone can still care deeply about pulling-out-all stops in the war on terrorism and demand a better explanation — and expect a bipartisan clamor for some answers. There will be some who’ll now label Ashcroft, Safire (quoted profusely and favorably by conservative talk show hosts, pundits and bloggers for years), and Comey softies in the war on terrorism or — perhaps worse to them — disloyal or not really Republicans. Will that feeling be the majority stance within the GOP? Or will 2006 see the administration increasingly finding itself fighting two wars…in Iraq and on the home front…heatedly trying to shore up support within in its own party for what is clearly an expansion of executive power?

49 Comments

  1. I believe that Comey is the main NYT source and that he is thus guilty not only of disclosing classified info but possibly of outright treason. It’s clear that Comey had it in for the Bush administration — his opinions on NSA surveillance and his decision to appoint Fitzgerald are proof enough of that. He made a cold, calculated decision to get back at the Bush administration, national security be damned.

    They used to hang people like James Comey. But I’d be perfectly happy if he just spent the rest of his life in jail.

  2. You have no proof. You don’t like what he did so you’re trying to discredit him. I think Santa Claus was the leak. My proof is as good as yours.

  3. I have no proof, obviously, but Comey had the info and he had the motivation. The press loves all the disgruntaled former WH employees: Clarke, O’Neill, Wilson, Wilkerson, Comey. Without them, the press would have make up their own anti-Bush lies.

  4. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue except in the sense that the Republican party has been hijacked by a bunch of cultists who worship the imperial George W. Bush and his keeper, Dick Cheney. The issue here is the constitution and the rule of law. You can see that in the “if you oppose anything Bush does you must be a Democrat” meme. I truly pray that the real Republicans can take their party back.

  5. Also make sure you count your silverware after he visits. He hocks the money and gives it to the Democrats.

  6. I truly pray that the real Republicans can take their party back.

    I hope that RINOs like you don’t let the door hit you on your way out. We’re at war: you’re either for the commander-in-Chief or you’re for the other side. There’s no gray area, none of the “nuance” the left loves so much. Just two sides. Which one are you on?

  7. That’s right. Anyone who does not believe that every single decision George Bush does is a RINO. But wait: didn’t we therefore see a LOT of RINOS like William Kristol and others when he nominated Harriet Miers and said she was vital in the war against terrorism? Why didn’t that matter? And maybe your right. American demcracy has always been about the leader having the right to make all decisions, and anyone in wartime who questions them are traitors. So anything he does in 2006, no matter what, is for the good of the country and done in the very best way even if there are questions raised about it by other Republicans, who can’t be Republicans because if they were they would go along with every single thing he said. Even though they didn’t on Harriet Miers. I get it.

  8. Something for Doug
    “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” – Theodore Roosevelt

  9. But Teddy Roosevelt was the ultimate RINO, and therefore a traitor. Don’t you get it? He was in league with Howard Dean’s great great grandfather (so let’s get him off the face of that mountain and put GBW up there).

  10. I love how the GOP leadership has redefined what it means to be a Republican. The GOP used to stand for fiscal conservatism and a balanced budget, limited involvement in international treaties, military strength, and a small government. The GOP leadership (aka the Repugnicans) stands for none of these things any more. If you have the audacity to believe in true Republican ideals, you’re a RINO.

    The GOP rank and file do need to retake their party from the Repugnicans before a moderate, independent centrist Democrat or independent figures out how to appeal to the mass of disaffected Republicans.

  11. The GOP used to stand for fiscal conservatism

    It still does. If you think Kerry would have cut the budget as much as Bush has, you must be smoking some of the good stuff Kerry was getting in Cambodia.


    military strength

    Do I even have to answer this one? I’ll leave it to Zell: “the democrats want to protect the country with spitballs.”

    To put it simply, the Republican party stands for faith and strength. The Dems stand for weakness and secularism. And people wonder who will win the elections. LOL.

  12. Yes, only ONE PARTY and people who think parrot the party’s line represent faith and strength.

  13. DougJ nails it. The Republican Party stands for a faith-based defense policy. Oh, and a faith-based economic policy.

  14. “Faith-based economic policy”.. Elrod that was good.

  15. DougJ -

    Um, I am fairly well known on this board for giving a remarkable amount of latittude to Bush and the current Republican administration, but wow, you must be a ROD (Republican on Drugs) to claim this administration has ‘cut the budget’ in ANY way.

    Would you like to buy a bridge or two in Alaska? Oh, wait, you already have!

  16. Please, tell me how offering tax cuts during wartime is fiscally responsible? How is deficit spending fiscally conservative? The only way it makes sense is for a Grover Norquistian “starve the beast” strategy, and that’s not even remotely fiscally conservative. Radically libertarian, sure, and if you qualify as one yourself, fine. But don’t try to snow me (or anyone else) by saying it’s fiscally conservative.

    As for military strength, the army and all the reserves and national guards have failed to meet their recruiting quotas. Generals have stated outright that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with long tours of duty and short respites back home are rapidly degrading the effectiveness of the military. The Pentagon has abandoned the two war scenario, where we needed to have enough forces to fight significant wars in at least two theaters, for example South Korea and Iraq. How does all of this stand for strength, exactly?

    As a moderate Democrat, I stand for a lot of things, especially a powerful United States. The difference is that there are a lot of ways to be powerful, only one of which is military strength. A strong economy and intelligent international trade makes us powerful. The ability to export our culture and national values internationally makes us powerful. An education system that foreigners want to send their children to makes us powerful. And yes, a large, technologically advanced military makes us powerful.

    Unfortunately, the use of military power in the case of Iraq has seriously degraded our economic and our cultural power, and it’s starting to have an effect on our other forms of power too.

    Let’s not forget – there are many different forms of strength and power beyond raw physical force. And some of those different forms are far, far more effective.

  17. Looks like the RINOs and leftists are ganging up on me here. I don’t like an unfair fight, so I’ll be leaving now.

  18. I don’t have any more insight than anyone else into who “leaked”, but covering sins through compartmentation is a time-honored tradition in the Intelligence Community. Until we see more than W saying ‘trust me, and the guys who work for me, it really was/is legal’, then the “leaker” should receive whistleblower protection. And, yes, I am a Republican (maybe disenfranchised Republican is more accurate right now).

  19. Elrod -

    BTW – as new revolations come out, and as I have had more time to consider this, I think I have to change my original position on this issue.

    The fact that neither Ashcroft of his Deputy would sign off on this is very troubling. Neither of them can be called leftist, RINO’s, or soft on the War on Terrorism.

    And from the bigger picture of civil liberties in general, I think I was wrong there as well. I read a good item last night (http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1229-35.htm) via Hit-and-Run by T.J Rodgers, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, and two quotes in particular struck me:

    “It’s not that I’m unpatriotic. The founders of our country did not trust any government — either that of George III or an uncontrolled democracy. That’s why we have the Bill of Rights to protect American citizens from their own government”

    “I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term “patriot,” then I am certainly not one.”

  20. That’s right DougJ. Anyone who disagrees with you MUST be a RINO and Leftist. I suppose Barry Goldwater would be a RINO too, today…well, no he’d be a dinosaur by your standards. You are the sole person (minus George Bush, perhaps) who knows what it means to be an authentic Republican.

  21. To add to AustinRoth’s note, I saw this quote lead off an article about the recent events, just can’t recall which one precisely:

    “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”
    William O. Douglas

  22. Has anyone else noticed that most Republicans think that laws are for other people, and not for them?

  23. I think “Doug” is a Democratic troll. Let’s ask him his opinion on states rights and unconstitutional federal intervention with lynching.

  24. Now, let’s be fair – there are a LOT of Republicans who think that the party has gone off the rails. I know a good many of them myself. That’s why I make a distinction between the GOP rank-and-file and the Repugnican leadership. The rank-and-file are being lied too by people like Frist, DeLay, et al just as much as the rest of the country is, and many of them despise the lack of fiscal conservatism, the big government tendencies, etc. of the Bush administration. These folk voted AGAINST Kerry, not for Bush, just as I voted against Bush as opposed to voting for Kerry. Yes, it’s a purely rhetorical distinction that still resulted in a Bush win in 2004, but the rhetorical distinction is a very important one that has huge implications for th 2006 Congressional elections and the 2008 Presidential and Congressional elections.

  25. (1) the CiC violating his oath to defend and uphold the constitution is not (or at least should not) be a GOP/Democrat issue
    (2) Since the White House knew about this “leak” before the election, why is it only *now* that NSA is calling for the investigation by DoJ?
    (3) to “Doug:” *You* may be happy living in a nation where you “have to watch what you say,” and who you say it to, no matter who you are, but I’m not. I’m also not happy that *my* government has seen fit to act as some South Amarican satrapy where torture, secret prisons, murder of prisoners and making people “disappear” is the norm and condoned. If you are, it’s a sorry reflection on you for the company you keep.
    (4) as for the rubric that “we have to do these things to keep you safe,” that’s just another translation of “the ends justify the means.” Mine own answer to that is “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?”

  26. It doesn’t matter who you vote for. It didn’t matter in 2000. It didn’t matter in 2004. It doesn’t matter now. Bush lost Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Even if Kerry had got in, he’d only be another Yale puppet for foreign masters.

    The USA is crashing down around our ears – its economy is one big bubble, its foreign policy is self-defeating, and Bush directed the NSA ti open a file on anyone upholding its constitution. Civil rights are just trash here.

    On top of this we have 8 trillion dollars of government debt, another 40 trillion of credit cards and zero-interest mortgages, and another 80 of derivatives – your retirement dollars in the balance – all going down the gurgler to China.

    What this spells is a Depression, swiftly followed by a World War. Left, Right, none of it matters – unless you live in Tasmania you can kiss your children goodbye. Along with your ass.

  27. Hey Fubar, a few words of wisdom for you:

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There’s something you’ve forgotten
    And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you’re feeling in the dumps
    Don’t be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

    And…always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the light side of life…

    For life is quite absurd
    And death’s the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.
    Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow.

    So always look on the bright side of death
    Just before you draw your terminal breath

    Life’s a piece of shit
    When you look at it
    Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
    You’ll see it’s all a show
    Keep ‘em laughing as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

    And always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the right side of life…
    (Come on guys, cheer up!)
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    (Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
    Always look on the bright side of life…
    (I mean – what have you got to lose?)
    (You know, you come from nothing – you’re going back to nothing.
    What have you lost? Nothing!)
    Always look on the right side of life…

  28. > If you think Kerry would have cut the budget as much as Bush has …

    Wouldn’t have been hard, since Bush HASN’T cut the federal budget. Since he took over, federal spending has INCREASED from about $2 trillion annually to around $2.5 trillion, despite heavy cuts in domestic social spending. A goodly chunk of that increase reflects higher interest on the national debt since he’s been running record deficits. Is the “war on terrorism” the cause of those deficits? Are the lousy economy or higher oil prices the causes? To a certain degree, yes. But mostly, the cause is that Bush and company have given huge tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans, and the revenue has not been made up. Heck, just last month, Congress — with Bush’s blessing — cut social programs some more, by about $35 billion, and then promptly turned around and voted to give the richest among us another $55 billion in tax cuts. So where’s the “reduced spending,” except in the imagination of non-reality based Republicans?

  29. Joe, you really haven’t been paying attention. The article says that Bush went to the AG’s office to get approval and you want to know why?!?

    Well, golly, it’s because, just like the FISA law requires, wiretaps that don’t have a warrant must be approved by the AG. Ashcroft apparently had been approving other wiretaps in the past; but changed his mind during 2004 – and according to the NYT,

    What is known is that in early 2004, about the time of the hospital visit, the White House suspended parts of the program for several months and moved ahead with more stringent requirements on the security agency on how the program was used, in part to guard against abuses.

    So, golly, rather than running roughshod over the FISA law, Bush appears to have followed it – by asking the AG’s approval – and when the AG wouldn’t approve, he suspended the program until modifications were made that passed the AG’s requirements.

    Yeah, that sounds like “wiretaps gone wild” all right.

  30. Golly, I seem to have overused “golly” in that previous post. I’ll have to work on broadening my collection of euphemisms.

  31. Since he took over, federal spending has INCREASED from about $2 trillion annually to around $2.5 trillion, despite heavy cuts in domestic social spending.

    911 changed everything. Most of those increases are related to defense and national security.

  32. Hi AustinRoth,

    That’s one of the cancers at the core of our culture – everything’s a joke to us. The deaths of millions of innocents, the systematization of torture, our own bankruptcy – haha, oh boy, that is funny, bud. I haven’t laughed so much since I cut my own nuts off with a potato peeler. Hoo! Did I cry!

    We got here by making everything a joke, all of us just kids laughing while the school burns down. We chuckleheads have a whole lot of yucks ahead of us, plenty of them in 2006 and a regular laugh riot in the years of deprivation and horror to follow. Ha! Ow! My sides are splitting!

    Ours is the first genocide to come with a laugh track.

  33. Oh, lighten up Fubar. You don’t know irony when it kicks you hard in the ass.

    I could have just made a direct comment on the paranoia leaking around the edges (and middle) of your post (foreign masters, China, World War coming, and they will take your children away, too!)

    I guess you will next be telling us that the UN white tanks will be coming any day, our Bilderberg masters will declare the New World Order, and the Illuminati will openly rule us all!

    Given the obvious depth of your doom and gloom pessimism making like chicken little here, what keeps you going? The knowledge that you have a multi-year supply of beans, dried meat, and ample water supplies and ammunition to hold you out for the years of anarchy, when the cities empty and chaos reigns> Then you and the people’s militia can triumphently exit your shelters, and re-establish a true Republic in Free Montana?

  34. Dougie boy… Be patriotic…sign up to fight in the Iraq war…

  35. Hi AustinRoth,

    Irony. Yes, that’s the way to look at it. By gum you’re right, sir. The scales have dropped from my eyes. Irony. Why didn’t I think of that before?

    Now we Americans can have 3 communities: the faith based community, recognized by their symptoms of clinical paranoia, the reality based community, marked by large holdings of gold and foreign currency, and the irony based community. You can tell members of the irony based community by their one permanently arched eyebrow. I think they use botox to keep it that way.

    I’m one of those fellows with the foreign holdings. What keeps me going is investment property. In Tasmania.

    Now to the latest outrage, I believe what we’re seeing is a qualitative change in Bush’s behaviour. We’ve grown so accustomed to Bush lies we’re all having trouble coming to grips with this change. Bush is telling the truth. Caught with an illegal and eminently impeachable offence, something worse than anything Clinton or even Nixon did, Bush has simply said, yeah, I did it, and I’m going to keep doing it, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so buzz off.

    There is nothing we can do about it. There is no point in taking a political stand. There is no point in standing up to be counted by anyone or proposing any reaction to this. If you’re reality based, the only thing you can do is to leave the country. While you still can.

    The irony based community will no doubt have a good chortle at the expense of we nouveau Tasmanians. In return I vow we’ll raise a glass to your memory – “they are gone, but their sarcastic quips and apathetic skits will live until the last DVD has perished” …

  36. To say that if you dissagree with the president during a time of war is completely ludicrous. Did you ever dissagree with a democrat president? I’m sure you did as have I, but wait!!!! Before the war on terror were we not in a war on drugs. Oh man, that would then make us all traitors and should be punished by, as one said in his post, by hanging.
    Ummmm ok to suggest that disagreeing with the current president makes you a traitor against our free country makes you not only stupid, but a facist. The plain and simple truth is the war on terror will never end. Terrorism will exist as long as mankind exists. You cannot say that due to a war the constitution is invalid. I for one am not ready to live in a Nazi state. If you wish to give up your rights as a US citizen dont try to change my constitution, just leave my country.

  37. And another thing: sorry I’m on a roll. Does anyone remember all those guys who died in everyother fight America has been involved in. Yeah, we used to call em patiots and hero’s. Seems to me we used to fight and die to protect our freedom. Now alot of us seem to be so willing to give up our basic rights, why? Are you that afraid? I am afraid, afraid the terrorists won already. You dont give up your freedom and rights for anything, especially one mans poor, poor interpretation of whats good for you and our country.

  38. I sure am glad you guys know how to conduct a rational discussion about the issues related to this thread instead of randomly wandering off into name-calling and straw-man beating.

    Does anyone have anything actually relevant to say about the possibility that Bush was actually complying with FISA and that’s why he was trying to get the AG’s approval?

  39. Be patriotic…sign up to fight in the Iraq war…

    Service does not make you a patriot. Look at Murtha. Look at Kerry. They served, and even won medals, and now they’re stabbing the president in the back and urging us to cut and run.

  40. Mike,

    You notice the President hasn’t been using this defense? The reason: because it has a lot of flaws. The largest of which is that the attorney general has to certify under oath the following:

    A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
    (i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
    (ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
    (B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party;

    You notice that spoken communication is explicitly excluded. And paragragh B rules out any surveillance of Americans.

    Reference this at:
    Cornell Law Reference

  41. the adminstrastion leaked this story. the NYtimes held on to the story for 18 months .. why? cause the Bush adminstration asked them to.. anyone knows that the guvemmet’ has been spying for ages on the american people, don’t know why you are all shocked. There is a reason this came out now… The plame gate it much deeper. distraction dour jour.. now all the constitution people will be blamed for another false flag attack on the american people.. man people smells of rovie and Cheney, bush ain’t that smart. Insiders of the adminstration have already warned about another false flag attack.. yep it was done on purpose.

  42. Mike,

    “Does anyone have anything actually relevant to say about the possibility that Bush was actually complying with FISA and that’s why he was trying to get the AG’s approval?”

    Bush didn’t need the AG’s approval, he only needed a FISA warrant (even retroactively).

    If any permission was requested from Ashcroft, it was Justices’ support in a circumvention of the law and the Constitution. Ashcroft must have been very sick because it actually seems that he stood tall for the principle of law.

  43. DougJ,

    If anyone is a RINO, it is the Bush administration gangsters and anyone who chooses their criminality over the principles of a Republican Party that is truly committed to the welfare of the United States.

    This is not a political party, it is a cult of personality.

  44. DougJ tells us Bush has cut federal spending, yet when I point out that actually, spending is up about 25% since the Clinton era (adjusted for inflation), DougJ says, well, yeah, but that drunken-sailor spending authorized by the GOP Congress and signed into law by Bush is all explainable by the need for an increased defense budget.

    No it isn’t. According to the Economic Policy Institute:

    Data in the Administration’s own Mid-Session Budget Review indicated that the Bush tax cuts have played a larger role than all other legislation enacted since the start of 2001 in the emergence of the current sizable budget deficit, and that the tax cuts account for the majority of the current deficit.

    * The Mid-Session Budget Review, released July 30, 2004, showed that the tax cuts (later increased and extended) accounted for 57 percent of the cost of all legislation enacted since the Bush Administration took office. The tax cuts thus have contributed more to the worsening fiscal picture than all other new government policies combined — more than the sum of the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terrorism, increases in homeland security, and all domestic spending increases.

    * The Mid-Session Review data also show that the tax cuts account for well over half of the 2004 deficit.

    * These findings were consistent with later CBO data. The CBO is non-partisan.

    I’ll grant that the effective cost of terrorism is nevertheless underrepresented in Bush’s budgets, since his administration doesn’t bother to include all those costs on budget, asking for supplemental appropriations time and again. Remember when, during the ’04 campaign, Kerry said the cost of the Iraq war would soon hit $200 billion? He was criticized for hyperbole, and yet as of this month the estimated cost for the war will shortly approach HALF A TRILLION.

    Now, EVEN GIVEN that the war in Iraq and/or anti-terrorism spending has forced Bush to engage in a spending spree, Bush INSISTS on paying for it by borrowing heavily. Why? Just eliminating tax cuts for the richest one percent of Americans would bring us close to breaking even, but the rich can’t be bothered to pay for this war, so they lay a credit card bill on all our doorsteps and Bush proclaims his fiscal responsibility and yet continues to cut programs that aid the poor, disabled and elderly. For shame.

    Finally, even if we were to ignore reality and pretend that Bush’s record deficits are all because of terrorism, that’s to give his administration far more credit than it deserves. Arguably, the money he HAS appropriated to fight terrorism — domestically and in Iraq and Afghanistan — has been wildly misspent. To take just one example, outfits like Halliburton have been cleaning taxpayer pockets while not delivering on their contracts, and yet the Bush administration doesn’t have the gumption to insist on careful accounting and independent audits. BILLIONS of dollars have simply disappeared in Iraq, where the rebuilding effort has lagged badly. Here at home, hamlets in Idaho have received far more anti-terrorism funds per capita than New York City. It’s madness.

  45. DougJ said:

    It’s clear that Comey had it in for the Bush administration — his opinions on NSA surveillance and his decision to appoint Fitzgerald are proof enough of that. He made a cold, calculated decision to get back at the Bush administration, national security be damned.

    So, DougJ, you’re basically accusing Comey of doing what the Bush admin has done countless times in the last five years: making a cold, calculated decision to get back at a perceived enemy, national security be damned (see: Paul O’Neill, Eric Shinseki, Richard Clarke, Robert Wilson, Major General John Riggs, Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, Larry Lindsey, Jeffrey Kofman, Jose Bustani, Bunnatine Greenhouse, David Kay, et al).

    Never mind that somehow this leak is a threat to national security, but leaking an undercover CIA operative’s name isn’t — despite the boy king’s assurances that he “takes all leaks seriously”. That is, seriously enough to stonewall for two years.

    And your expert analysis of the Bush admin’s economic efforts is laughable at best. It took Bush three years to outspend Clinton’s eight. There has been no debt reduction (8.18 TRILLION and counting…), no deficit reduction, no fiscal restraint, no billionaire left behind.

    Please, give us a break. You’ve earned your pay for today, Bush shill.

    Who’s to say it wasn’t Ashcroft that was the leaker? You obviously have no proof to back up your claims. It seems to me that anybody who would appoint a non-partisan like Fitzgerald (also prosecuting uber-Dem Richard Daly in Chicago), in defiance of the venomous attack-all-enemies/deny-all-wrongdoing atmosphere of BushCo politics is laudable.

    And you have a problem with someone who stands up for honesty and accountability. Typical.

    In an unrelated note, please- I grow weary of all the right-wingers claiming Barry Goldwater as their patron saint. If Barry Goldwater were alive today, he’d punch Bush in the throat, kick him in his tiny little balls, then spit on him while the coward was curled up on the ground crying. And then maybe kick him once or twice more, for good measure. There’s no way Barry Goldwater would’ve stood for this shameful, treacherous and idiotic behavior in the name of “conservatism”.

  46. Brian said:
    You notice the President hasn’t been using this defense? The reason: because it has a lot of flaws. The largest of which is that the attorney general has to certify under oath the following:

    Brian,

    Actually, I have noticed that Bush has repeatedly stated that he has done nothing illegal under FISA. After carefully reading the NYT articles to see what the facts are (as opposed to the various spins people place on them) I think that may be true – the only evidence we have that Bush violated FISA is anonymous claims published by a reporter who, coincidentally, has a book being published this week on this very subject.

    In other words, we have nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors on the one hand and Bush’s denials on the other. All attempts to connect dots with Ashcroft or anything else are pure speculation.

    and blaze said:
    Bush didn’t need the AG’s approval, he only needed a FISA warrant (even retroactively).

    blaze, you didn’t actually read the FISA law, did you? It explicitly states that certain kinds of wiretaps only need the AG’s approval they DO NOT NEED A WARRANT.

  47. Funny how John Walker Lindh had no problem “penetrating” al-qaeda. Neither did the government informant who met two of the 911 hijackers at a California airport and rented an apartment for them. Even though the US governement created al-qaeda to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, now, for some reason, they’re inpenetrable. Can’t find Bin Laden. Can’t penetrate al-quada. Must collect all the data on who calls who in the US. It all makes sense now.

  48. Doug, are you still lol? How much do the Murder Inc. people pay you to spout off all the time? Hope it’s a lot.

    PING:
    TITLE: Safire and Taylor on wiretaps–and my radical wish for 2006
    BLOG NAME: Fruits and Votes
    William Safire was on Meet the Press today. I did not see it, just like I missed the drop kick (though maybe I will catch both later). Safire is not exactly a fire-breathing radical–or maybe he is (more on that later). I recommend Steven Taylor&…

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