Saturday, October 13, 2007

What’s National Security Got To Do With It?

Tristero over at Digby’s has an excellent post up about this shocking story, in which it’s alleged the NSA sought warrantless wiretapping powers seven months before 9/11:
[Joseph] Nacchio's account, which places the NSA proposal at a meeting on Feb. 27, 2001, suggests that the Bush administration was seeking to enlist telecommunications firms in programs without court oversight before the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The Sept. 11 attacks have been cited by the government as the main impetus for its warrantless surveillance efforts.
As Tristero notes, these are the kinds of allegations that would ordinarily spawn massive investigations and resignations, maybe even an impeachment trial or two. But since America has descended into cuckoo bananas land, it’s likely this will pass without notice. Instead we get “Look -- over there! Ann Coulter said something stupid!”

This revelation begs the question: did other telecommunication companies comply with the NSA’s request--seven months prior to 9/11? And if so, to what purpose, since the warrantless surveillance clearly didn’t prevent the 9/11 attacks (or the ensuing anthrax attacks, which everyone loves to forget about).

And if the warrantless surveillance couldn’t stop the 9/11 attacks, then what’s the point of having the program now? Just who is the NSA eavesdropping on? Suspected terrorists? Or, as many of us suspect, is this just a partisan political program, allowing the White House to eavesdrop on Democratic rivals? Richard Nixon did it, why would anyone think Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush wouldn’t?

Joseph Nacchio, former chief executive of Qwest Communications, claims when he refused to comply with the NSA’s request, the agency retaliated by canceling a separate, unrelated contract with the telecommunications company. Nacchio is now in jail for insider trading, since he sold large amounts of stock before the price plummeted. But he says the NSA contract would have been lucrative enough to pull Qwest through a period of slow sales. Instead, the NSA canceled the contract and Nacchio went to jail.

Tristero sums it up like this:
Within five weeks after George W. Bush moved into the White House (after a stolen election, let's not forget), his administration sought to wiretap without any legal oversight whatsoever, severely punishing those that insisted on obeying the law.* Not work to change the law, mind you, but rather to disobey the laws of this country with total impunity.

Within five weeks. Long before 9/11. Kee-rist.

Indeed. If I were a freedom-loving American, I’d be hitting the phones and calling my Congress Critter demanding immediate investigations. But that’s just me.