Monday, December 19, 2005

One President Off, Again

A recent president of the United States did, indeed, conduct widespread, indiscriminate domestic electronic espionage of questionable legality against the American people.

But his name was not George Bush:

During the 1990's under President Clinton, the National Security Agency monitored millions of private phone calls placed by U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries under a super secret program code-named Echelon.

On Friday, the New York Times suggested that the Bush Administration has instituted "a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices" when it "secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without [obtaining] court-approved warrants."

But in fact, the NSA had been monitoring private domestic telephone conversations on a much larger scale throughout the 1990s - all of it done without a court order, let alone a catalyst like the 9/11 attacks.
Well, well, well. Isn't THIS interesting. And at a time when the Clintonoids were doing everything humanly possible to avoid even creating the appearance of fighting Islamist terrorism.

How egregious was the Clinton domestic espionage program?

In February 2000, for instance, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft introduced a report on the Clinton-era spy program by noting:

"If you made a phone call today or sent an e-mail to a friend, there's a good chance what you said or wrote was captured and screened by the country's largest intelligence agency. The top-secret Global Surveillance Network is called Echelon, and it's run by the National Security Agency."

NSA computers, said Kroft, "capture virtually every electronic conversation around the world."

Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told 60 Minutes that the agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."
Well, if they weren't doing all this domestic snooping under the rubric of counter-terrorism operations, just why were they doing it?

[Maxwell Smart voice] Would you believe..."economic espionage"?

During the 1990s, President Bill Clinton ordered the National Security Agency to use its super-secret Echelon surveillance program to monitor the personal telephone calls and private email of employees who worked for foreign companies in a bid to boost U.S. trade, has learned.

In 2000, former Clinton CIA director James Woolsey set off a firestorm of protest in Europe when he told the French newspaper Le Figaro that he was ordered by Clinton in 1993 to transform Echelon into a tool for gathering economic intelligence.

"We have a triple and limited objective," the former intelligence chief told the French paper. "To look out for companies which are breaking US or UN sanctions; to trace 'dual' technologies, i.e., for civil and military use, and to track corruption in international business."
Are you grasping the implications of this? Clinton and the Democrats were abusing the NSA to screw the very same EUnuchs at whose PC alters they bow down and to which they insist we cede our foreign policy sovereignty. And the EUnuchs were, ostensibly, pissed (although probably hypocritically, since they doubtless do the exact same thing to us).

However, their protests fell on deaf ears in Washington, D.C. Indeed, Clinton signed the not-very-clandestinely-named Economic Espionage Act of 1996 for the very purpose of misusing the nation's intelligence apparatus as a tool of a de facto industrial policy. And, at least until 60 Minutes did its 2000 story on "Echelon," the same Extreme Media that is giving breech birth to multiple litters of mutant porcupines over George Bush's lawful direction of the NSA to eavesdrop on overseas calls with possible al Qaeda connections gave not even a first thought to Bill Clinton becoming a literal "Big Brother" for no more noble or justifiable purpose than to, in essence, enrich his Big Business cronies and, as a consequence, his own campaign coffers.

Yet read what the Left's two designated point men, Russ Feingold and Carl Levin (the latter of whom looks like what you'd get if you took the perpetually smiling man on the Quaker Oats logo and repeatedly slammed his scrotum in a drawer) have to say about Bush's policy:

"We will not tolerate a president who believes that he is the sole decision-maker when it comes to the policies that this country should have in the war against terror and the policies we should have to protect the rights of completely innocent Americans!"
This is a level of distortive intermixing of incoherence and hypocrisy that one usually observes only in the immediate vicinity of quantum singularities. Just reading the above quote makes me want to look furtively over my shoulder to see if the late Rod Serling is lurking just out of my field of vision. The truth is as I laid it out the other day: Democrats think themselves entitled to rule by the secularist equivalent of divine right just on general principles, and they consider George Bush to be a heretical usurper. Consequently they are fully willing to demolish the very institution of the presidency in the process of destroying him, and expose the American people at large to systematic and wholesale terrorist slaughter if it will get them their power back. And yet if, and whenever, they do - let's say Hillary wins in 2008 - they will let her do whatever she pleases and offer their blanket, blank-check support of all of it, just as they did her incontinent hubby's rampant and corrupt domestic espionage.

The Donks cannot be disabused of the puerile, hopelessly solipsistic notion that this is all just the game of politics as usual. If 9/11 didn't convince them that this is serious as a heart attack, nothing will, not even a WMD terrorist attack, which they will promptly blame on the very same Bush White House they deprived of the Patriot Act powers that may well have prevented it.

With every left-wingnut anti-war/anti-Bush histrionic - and every installment of Bush push-back - the minority party sinks that much deeper into the self-generated political quagmire of which, like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot, they're not even aware.

At this rate, there's going to be another huge and unpleasant surprise waiting for the "Defeatocrat" crowd ten and a half months from now.

UPDATE: This frog ain't boiling - in a pot, anyway:

So essentially what the liberals are saying is that the US should not monitor calls from known terrorists abroad to previously unknown US co-conspirators under any circumstances. They are proposing in essence that only calls to terrorist co-conspirators who are well known and under surveillance already can be monitored. The idea that the US should put its fingers in its own ears and repeat, “I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” when terrorists communicate with their agents in the US is one of the most ridiculous and silly ideas that I have ever heard. Members of the Frogosphere already know that Democrats cannot be trusted with the security of the United States, but this highly political stance cannot be mistaken as anything other than the utterly irresponsible and laughably weak gesture that it is.

I am especially encouraged by the President’s rapid and forceful defense of this practice which has already compelled his leftist malefactors to take indefensible positions that they will undoubtedly regret at the ballot box. Timing the release of this story with the filibuster of the Patriot Act and the successful Iraqi elections demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that the MSM and the radical left are one single-purpose entity focusing on any possible method of attacking the President and prematurely ending his term [No less a legal and constitutional scholar than Babs Boxer has already breached the "I" word that her colleague from Massachusetts didn't want anybody to know he mentioned last week; if you can't trust a brainiac like BB, who can you trust...?]. When Democrats make the same argument against wiretaps targeting terrorists trying to kill millions of Americans with eavesdropping on civil rights leaders and anti-war activists in the 1960s, one shudders at the implications of that level of timidity and cowardice. [emphasis added]

Counterterrorism Blog, via Protein Wisdom, puts it equally "with the bark on":

Are we or are we not at war with the terrorists? Osama bin Laden declared that war in 1998. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission wondered why the previous administration refused to do so and the incumbent held off until October 2001. The jihadists are present within the U.S., including those who carry U.S. passports. So are other terror jihadists in Spain, Britain, Holland, or France. By pure rationale, the U.S. government has the duty to use all means (approved by war conventions) to resist the penetration and infiltration of the United States. Doing otherwise is unlawful, unconstitutional, and more importantly to the detriment of the security, and therefore the liberty, of the American people. [emphasis added]

I wonder how long it'll be before Nancy Pelosi comes out and declares that with every thousand Americans massacred by the terrorists, her party will pick up ten House seats....