Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bush's NSA Program to Get Information On Everybody that Everybody has Called: two Conservative views

The newest manufactured brouhaha -- over the National Security Agency (NSA) creating a database of phone records to track terrorist phone patterns -- was just the latest in a long string of stories trumped up to make Bush look not just incorrect, but dictatorial, even evil. USA Today hyped the story, and the media pack lapped it up, but it failed the first test of newsworthiness: Is it new? No. USA Today's scoop was mostly a retelling of what the New York Times reported last Christmas Eve, that the phone companies had given the NSA "access to streams of international and domestic communications."

. . . It's only when Republicans hold the White House that the networks fear an "imperial presidency." But the problem for Americans is an imperial media, so assured of its own self-congratulatory role as defender of America's freedoms, but such an emperor with no clothes of fairness or balance.
From Brent Bozell, "The database double standard."
The NSA's defenders cite Qwest's refusal, which shows supplying the data was voluntary, as evidence the program is legal. In fact, it indicates just the opposite: Had Qwest been presented with a lawful subpoena or court order demanding the data, it almost certainly would have complied, and if it hadn't the government could have forced it to do so.

Instead, the NSA resorted to extra-legal methods, pressuring the phone companies to divulge the data through appeals to patriotism, warnings about terrorism and (according to USA Today) threats of lost government contracts.

. . . seeking statutory authority should not be considered optional: Whether he likes it or not, the president is not above the law.
From Jacob Sullum, "Is the NSA's phone call database legal because the President says so."

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine which of these two men is a "real" conservative.

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