Jumping The Shark

The One True bIX

The title of the post <a href="http://www.blueoregon.com/2005/12/unbelievable.html">immediately preceding this one</a> would have worked here, too. But the one I've actually used is more apt.

The title of the post immediately preceding this one would have worked here, too. But the one I've actually used is more apt.

Over the past couple of years, I've argued repeatedly, here and elsewhere, that when it comes to the question of potential abuses of people's rights by their own government, our task as a nation must be to ensure that this doesn't happen, not merely to assume that it is not.

Earlier this month, more evidence arose in Colorado that the Joint Terrorism Task Force out there was spying on people on the basis of their political activity.

You know, the free speech and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances that's protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Yeah, that old thing. Exactly.

But that Denver situation isn't even what I'm talking about here. That isn't why we've finally jumped the shark as a nation when it comes to protecting our own Constitutional rights.

No, instead, this post is about this: NBC News has obtained documentary evidence that the Department of Defense has been spying on political protestors.

Wait, we're still not there.

Cited at the start of that NBC story? The fact that amongst the various individuals and groups upon which the DoD has been spying was a Quaker Meeting House.

Wait, still not there.

The group meeting at this Quaker Meeting House?

It seems the Pentagon labelled them in their spy files as a "threat."

No, don't bother to re-read it, here it is again: The United States Department of Defense has been spying on American citizens on the basis of their legally-protected First Amendment activity, and using the word "threat" to describe groups of such citizens, such as those meeting at a Quaker Meeting House in the state of Florida.

To paraphrase Lou Reed quoting his friend Donald: Stick a fork in our ass and turn us over, we're done.

  • (Show?)

    not to diminish what's going on now, cuz it's worse than ever, but this is not new. the Feds have spied on internal political groups for -- like, ever. i'm pretty sure Washington had it done. the union movement was watched -- and beaten, corporate management working closely with the government. the red scare era hardly needs comment. and frankly, if the FBI did not have a file on you in the 80s, you were not even trying. while today they spy on Quakers (of which i am one, so yay us), under Resgan they were spying on nuns.

    the major, and terrifying, difference now is that while the earlier instances of spying on the American public were fully illegal, the Patriot Act is legitimizing these practices. and when people who should know better, like Senator Ron Wyden, make the right of habeas corpus conditional and relative, we have not merely jumped the shark, we've circled back and offered ourselves up for his post-jump snacking.

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    That's the underlying context for why this is shark jumping. We've been through this mess before, cleaned it up... and then slid right back into, "Oh, no, that could never happen here."

    So, that's sort of my point.

    Wasn't it Einstein who said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but each time expecting a different result?

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    And don't even start on the PATRIOT Act. The Feds just used it against eco-saboteurs in the big recent bust. Now, I happen to find eco-sabotage and eco-vandalism to be a pretty dumbass and self-defeating tactic.

    But domestic terrorism which triggers the authority of the PATRIOT Act?


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    I'm in general agreement on the principles here, but allow me a brief devil's advocate moment:

    How could the government know that what's happening or being planned is in fact a peaceful political meeting - without watching it or being in attendance?

    To put a sharper point on it - if they get a tip that something honestly evil were going on, and they didn't investigate, wouldn't we hold them accountable for failing to stop a terrorist act? And then, having discovered that nothing evil is actually going on, how do they un-ring the bell - how do they "take back" the act of having spied on what turns out to be peaceful protestors? They can't, right?

    (I was quite pleased, btw, to see the Oregonian use the phrase 'eco-sabotage' in their weekend coverage -- rather than the inaccurate and overhyped 'eco-terrorism'. Terrorism: political violence aimed at people; Sabotage: political violence aimed at property.)

  • Idler (unverified)

    While I'm always happy to see that Americans are vigilant about constitutional rights, this post doesn't identify the infringement of any of those rights. Much hand-wringing, little perspective.

    Personally, when it comes to abuse of investigative powers, I'll really get worried when the present government starts sinking to the levels of the Kennedy Administration.

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    Kari plays devil's advocate How could the government know that what's happening or being planned is in fact a peaceful political meeting - without watching it or being in attendance?

    How do you differentiate "peaceful political meeting" from...what? A "violent political meeting?" And why does the government need to know what's happening at any meeting? And what level of government...the feds, state, City Council?

    And, further, how does one of these government "informers" attend meetings without participating? What still amuses me from my old anti-Vietnam War days...the nut case representing "East Side Up Against the Wall Motherf***ers" at coalition meetings, always pushing for "taking on the pigs"...later turned out was a cop. An agent provocateur.

    The right to free assembly is a pretty important component part of American democracy. And that includes the right to not worry about the cops taking down your names.

    I'll never forget Zero Mostel, blacklisted in real life, but also playing one who was in Woody Allen's "The Front": Confronted about being at some commie function: "hey, I was at the meeting just 'cause I was trying to get laid."

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    If arson, snipers, or bombings are employed by any faction, does it really matter whether they are domestic or foreign perps? Do you really distinguish between the wild eyed religious fanantic, or the teenage lout who opens fire on the Tacoma Mall?

    As for all the carping against the Patriot Act, it has not adversely impacted my life one iota. I imagine they've got a file on Bixsie, but I doubt it's inhibited his freedoms one bit. If they're tracking my internet trail, then they are likely to believe I'm an extremist too (what with all the time I spend at B.O. and reading about wide eyed socialists): they might have a file on me too. I'm still not worried about being taken away in the dark of night. In many countries (Cuba included!), that is a very real concern.

    Eventually, as the bad guys fail to follow up on 9/11, y'all are going to have to give the Bushies (and the Patriot Act) a little credit for preventing follow on attacks. Truth.

    Terrorism is simply the use of terror, or fear, to try and motivate a change in the behavior and psychology of the target victims (per m-w.com "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"

    That is exactly what ELF is doing: using terror to try and dissuade people from buying SUV's, or building McMansions in the forest, or cutting down trees. It is a notoriously difficult crime to investigate because we live in such a free society.

    In my opinion, Oregon will be a safer place if they make an example of these ELFin wannabees, and lock them up for 20 or 30 years.

  • friend (unverified)

    How do you differentiate "peaceful political meeting" from...what? A "violent political meeting?" And why does the government need to know what's happening at any meeting? And what level of government...the feds, state, City Council?

    Not to mention, this is at a church. While not everyone at the meeting were members of the church, many were. You know, if the pentagon were spying on the Baptist church, I think the members of that church would be rightfully upset. Would the fundies like the goverment spying on the activities at their church? I doubt it.

    As a member of a Friend's Meeting, this really bothers me -- both for political reasons and for religious ones. There are two layers of First Amendment problems here: free speech and free exercise of religion.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    The executive branch and its agents (police, prosecutors, etc.) have always conducted investigations. Some legal, some not so legal. The fact that investigations may have become more aggressive does not necessarily bother me. It may be that with all the wackos out there, the government needs to keep an eye on more and more people. Our protection against overzealous or illegal investigations has always been a strong and independent judicial system. I am frightened by the fact that the Bush administration and its friends and supporters (apparently including Ron Wyden) are working to weaken the independence of the judicial system and to restrict the availablity of the courts as a remedy for illegal conduct by the executive branch. Without the courts to protect everyone's liberties our country becomes a very much different and in my opinion very much darker place.

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    Stop me before I kill again, but isn't the whole issue here about maintaining the balance of powers embodied in the US Constitution???

    It's not about what was done in the Kennedy administration.

    It's not about whether b!X (or Anderholt for that matter) have yet to be "hauled away in the night."

    Nope, it's about whether any actions by any government entity involve searches, surveillance, or detention, without having acquired a search warrant issued by a judge in accordance with the US Bill of Rights.

    It's about the FISA laws instituted in the late 70s allowing searches to proceed based findings that are not subject to review by the courts

    It's about 30,000 "national security letters" issued by the Executive Branch this year without even the option of review by the judiciary.

    It's about DoD returning to domestic surveilance activities

    It's about the gradual and calculated hollowing out of our basic freedoms using the tactic of fearmongering

    I guess that's one way to permanently neuter those hated activists that apparently riddle the judiciary, while handing the bulk of the power to law enforcement and prosecutors.

    So if some president ever yielded to any of these totalitarian impulses in the pass, that is not enough to justify perpetuation of these criminal activities by the current administration.

    Cry the beloved fucking country!!!!!!!!!!

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    W Bruce sez: "As for all the carping against the Patriot Act, it has not adversely impacted my life one iota."

    Neither would repealing the right to vote for women. Are you on board with the repeal, then?

    Ask Brandon Mayfield whether his life has been adversely impacted one iota.

  • The_Bill of Rights (unverified)

    Yo, Pat:

    The Bill of Rights remain intact. To suggest otherwise is hyperbole. The Patriot Act was approved by our duly elected legislators and is the subject of ongoing judicial review. IF (and that's a big if) the FISA and "national security letters" and domestic spying allegations are illegal, then file a lawsuit (I'm sure the ACLU would be happy to oblige) and you'll get your day in court.

    The evolution of our legal framework is ongoing (as are the rights, for example, accorded to women and minorities). If the Congress allows exceptions to previous "protections" those exceptions are, by definition, legal. They don't have to meet Pat Ryan's expectations, merely the U.S Constitution's (as interpreted by the courts).

    TorridJoe: (perfect name, BTW)...Brandon Mayfield was an unfortunate exception to the rule. He is not the rule. How many other "Brandon Mayfields" can you cite? I spoke with a fingerprint analyst who examined the Spanish print, and Mayfields: he said they were remarkably similar.

    So the FBI is not perfect. Big deal. They made a mistake, they fixed their mistake. In Cuba or the Soviet Union, they would have buried a similar mistake (I mean that literally). The system, imperfect as it is, worked. As for denying the vote to women: too silly to merit a response.

  • Idler (unverified)


    B!x's post was about surveillance. It was not about search and detention.

    IF what he's describing is supposed to be evidence that the government has finally "jumped the shark" or passed some thresholld, then mention of more egregious activity on the part of previous administrations is very much to the point.

    Whatever the value of your comments about the various other supposed crimes of the present administration, they go beyond the scope of B!x's post, to which I was responding.

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    Pretty hard to tell how many illegal searches, unlawful surveillance, and other violations are occuring when we are told by the administration that they are all (justfiably) secret.

    Your trust and love of your leaders is touchingly naive and might even be heartwarming if there wasn't so much at stake.

    Your central thesis that everything done by the executive and legislative branches is legal until the courts say it isn't, misses the point.

    We are the government. We have seen the erosion of the ability (or desire) of the press to monitor these issues. We have citizens (like yourself) who seem to think that the trading of Liberty for Security is just the ongoing evolution of the legal framework.

    When women and Blacks got the right to vote, it was through huge sustained efforts of the disenfanchized groups in cooperation with 50%+1 of the white males that held power at the time.


    Bottom line?

    There is always movement in the area of individual vs. institutional rights. When individuals are vigilant, they keep or expand their rights. When they are complacent they lose rights, and it is really difficult to recover them once they are gone.

    It is the nature of governments and their functionaries to continuously attempt to limit the chaotic influence of individualism. You may be ok with a long slow slide into repression, but many of us are not.

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    Bill of Rights-- Mayfield can't be an exception to the rule, if what was done to him was done under the rules. His house was searched without his knowledge, and without a publicly obtained search warrant. He was followed and detained for behavior that was newly allowed to be deemed suspicious.

    Your comment about the similarity of fingerprints ignores the point that the Spanish had long told the FBI there was no match, before Mayfield was finally released.

    And you want another name? How about Sami Al-Arian?

  • The_Bill of Rights (unverified)

    Pat Ryan:

    Your distrusting and dismissive view of Congress and the Executive branch says more about your psychology than it says about them.

    Ever heard of projection? Per M-W.com: the attribution of one's own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or to objects; especially : the externalization of blame, guilt, or responsibility as a defense against anxiety.

    TJ: So you've got Mayfield and Al-Arian. Two data points is not a trend, it is anecdotal evidence. They remain expections to the rule. We still enjoy greater political and free speech freedoms than any other nation in the history of the world.

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    Alleged BOR,

    This exchange appears to be pointless. Your most recent response addresses only my paranoia as you perceive it, and then wanders of into a discourse on projection!?.

    I have no idea what you're talking about unless you have somehow divined from my posts that I have latent totalitarian tendencies that I am somehow projecting onto an innocent and unfairly maligned law enforcement community.


    As for the "examples" that you continue to demand from Torrid Joe, there are at least 30,000. We have no idea of their legality, because those trustworthy law enforcement guys don't have to show probable cause to a judge whose decisions are reviewable by a higher court.

    But hey, I still haven't been hauled off in the dead of night. If that happens tonight, I hope they come after my favorite TV shows are over with.

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    Note also, if you will, that the DoD wasn't merely spying on these people, but collecting information about their activities. The only way they can say that there appeared to be no coordination amongst these peaceful protest planners because none of the same cars were at different meetings was if they were keeping files on people's license plate numbers.

    Maybe that makes some of you here feel safer. It makes me ill.

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    OK one more.

    My position (and that of constitutional law) is that law enforcement or the military may take no action on US soil to investigate, question, or detain any legal US resident, unless they have permission from a duly credentialed judge.

    All such actions and decisions are then subject to appeal, all the way to the US Supreme Court.

    If anyone thinks that this is unduly restrictive, the burden of proof that certain rights should be diminished is on them and their allies, not on me.

  • The_Bill of Rights (unverified)


    "Law enforcement...may take no action on US soil to investigate...unless they have permission from a duly credentialed judge." I think you took a different constitutional law class than I took. Or you need to proofread the above statement.

    Police investigate people ALL THE TIME without permission from a judge. Probable cause is one such permitted basis for investigation. There are several others where national security is concerned.

  • Idler (unverified)

    I don't want to make light of what is undoubtedly a serious issue, but there's something risible about B!x pointing out that not only did they look, but they also took notes.

    My point from my first comment was that what B!x reported here as some major departure was no such thing. That hasn't been refuted. His first comment to his own post shows, I believe, that he recognized belatedly that he overstated the case.

    Pat, I'm not sure if the "trust" comment was directed at me, but my original post should be construed not as a defense of the Administration's policies or actions, but as a comment on the overwrought quality of its critics.

    I'm with you on part of the standard you enounce, but there again you lump together investigation with detention. By doing so you're changing the subject again.

    But on the subject of investigation, do you really think that police shouldn't be able to even question someone without a court order? Or have I misunderstood your position?

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    His first comment to his own post shows, I believe, that he recognized belatedly that he overstated the case.

    Um, no. My point in that comment was that the fact that we've been down this road before and now are repeating the same damn stupid practices precisely informs the degree to which I stated my case.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    It's sad to see so many folks blasé about creeping totalitarianism. Of course, the FBI has been spying on peaceful citizens for decades [many peace, anti-nuclear, and human rights activists I know have an FBI file], but this story is about the freakin' military now spying on activists! No cold chills, eh? Well, I guess I'll meet some of you in the gulag and see others patrolling the fences.

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    Police investigate people ALL THE TIME without permission from a judge. Probable cause is one such permitted basis for investigation. There are several others where national security is concerned.

    Fair point BOR, (and Idler my trust remark was not aimed at you),

    The police may investigate as you note, based upon probable cause. They will then be required to defend their decision in open court if prosecution follows. If the defense can show lack of probable cause, all evidence gathered through a wrongful search must be thrown out. No word on when or whether this applies to DoD ops in a domestic situation.

    My central point continues to hold I believe, as specific acts relating to these fishing expeditions among the Administration defined Evildoers, are now routinely marked secret. This does not allow a person to find out:

    If they've been investigated but not charged.

    If their records are being retained in gummint files even if no charges are ever brought. <ahref=http: freeinternetpress.com="" modules.php?name="News&amp;file=article&amp;sid=4927">They are.


    In the real world, there are now tens of thousands of secret records held by the government(s) at all levels, on people who have never committed a crime. There are legal US residents being held without charge for years. There are foreign nationals being moved all over the globe to and from secret interrogation sites. Many of them for the apparent crime of capitalism, as their friends and neighbors turn them in to US troops for reward, etcetera.


    So-o-o-o-o-o-o, don't bother to exercise your fingers telling me that this post is "off topic". I realize that not every sentence addresses the specific incident raised by b!X, but to me, all of these gambits by various gummint agencies to increase their authority while diminishing the public's right to monitor their activities, are cut from the same cloth.

  • LT (unverified)

    As far as the question of "secret government files" they are often inaccurate. Mayor Katz got some old files declassified (or it happened while she was Mayor, forget which) and I think they were local law enforcement.

    One was a picture of a local activist campaigning for Bobby Kennedy or some such. Got the last name right, but the first name was not Vera but something else.

  • The_Bill of Rights (unverified)

    As illustrated above, the "anti-government spying crowd" appears far more paranoid than the "pro-totalitarianism" supporters seem bent on your destruction.

    Maybe everybody should lighten up. It's (generic) Holiday Time, you live in the (formerly) greatest country on earth, and most (many) of us have plenty to eat and a warm place to sleep at night. That puts us ahead of roughly 70% of the rest of humanity. Maybe we should stop the hand wringing long enough to count our (federally sponsored) blessings; perhaps even praise the lord for the bounty he has provided.

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    TBOR sez: Maybe we should stop the hand wringing long enough to count our (federally sponsored) blessings; perhaps even praise the lord for the bounty he has provided.

    I'll let Obama reply to you on that one:

    If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief-I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper-that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
  • Tradition Bound (unverified)

    1) The fact is that most people would not be effected one iota if the DOD decided take everyone who had criticized George Bush on an internet blog to Guantanomo for "interrogation". I suspect most people in Cuba have no fear of being arrested because they never think to say anything subversive. That is hardly a standard - but it is the one we are working with. Bin Laden has turned us into a nation of cowards frightened by shadows. Unlike our founding fathers no longer have the stomach for defending liberty.

    2) The standard of probable cause is one that was carefully constructed for law enforcement purposes. But the DOD is not a law enforcement agency. They don't arrest people, they seize enemy combatants in whatever war it is the President says they are fighting. So one must suppose that they went to the Quaker meeting looking for enemies in the current "war" on terror.

    3) The idea that collecting information and detention are distinctly separate steps seems to me contrived. We have gone down this road during the cold war and it is a short step from collecting the information to making use of it to compile blacklists and disrupting perfectly legal political gatherings. Had the DOD found a group of Muslims discussing their support for martyrs do you doubt that some of them would have ended up "detained" as enemy combatants?

    4) Mayfield is not an exception. The only thing that makes him an exception is that he was able to prove beyond all doubt that he was innocent and he did that only with the help of the Spanish authorities. Had it been left to the protections inherent in the US legal system he would still be rotting in jail. You can look at the Florida professor who has lost his job and will likely be deported despite being found innocent. His only apparent crime was holding political views that are abhorent to most of us. So there is nothing innocent and harmless about surveillance of people who are engaged in perfectly legal activities just because they happen to hold views that we don't like.

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    We still enjoy greater political and free speech freedoms than any other nation in the history of the world.

    And we will continue to do so--right up until the day when we don't.

    I'm with Tom C., it's scary how many of you people don't think this is scary. Creeping totalitarianism is exactly what it is. The fact that totalitarianism is what passed for normal for most of human history and still does for much of current humanity should constitute a warning, not a comfort.

    It's normal to ignore that bad things are happening because you know you are well down on the list of people they are likely to happen to but it isn't very smart. The history of totalitarianism is that if you allow them the power, they'll get around to you or someone you care about eventually. The Niemoller lines "First they came for..." have become so familiar we lose touch with the horrific reality behind them. We are so used to thinking of ourselves as special and the freedom we have as a birthright that we don't recognize what has happened in the past or elsewhere as relevant to us.

    How will they know people in political meetings aren't planning something violent if they don't spy on them? Argh. How will they know you aren't planning on murdering your business partner if they don't tap the phone you might be using to hire a hitman? How will they know you aren't planning to embezzle from your employer if they don't secretly get copies of all your financial records? How will they know you aren't going to molest a child if they don't put a tracking device on your car? They don't. But for good reason, the founders of this country, the people who figured out how to get us this unprecendented freedom, believed that the government doing those sorts of things with no evidence against you was a bigger threat than the threat that you might be up to no good.

    Being involved in political causes is not illegal (yet), it's the lifeblood of democracy. Going to a meeting with a bunch of people who think the government should do things differently is not tantamount to a presumption of guilt.

    I don't have a problem with an FBI agent dropping into a public meeting to see if people are advocating violence or other illegal activity but if they are going to follow up and create a file on a person or organization they should have a good, solid reason to do that. That the agent disagrees with their politics is not a good solid reason. In the absence of a reason, what gets recorded should be no more than "Agent Soandso attended the suchandsuch meeting and found no evidence of illegal activity."

    Unfortunately, that's not how it works. They go, they take notes on what people say and they add rumors about people's personal lives and speculations of their own that can end up sticking to a person or a group completely unjustly. As has been mentioned, sometimes they have even advocated the kinds of activities they are ostensibly there to prevent. The Colorado JTTF that b!X mentioned had a nice big file on the ACLU. The ACLU has been around since 1920. They write, they talk and they provide lawyers and take things to court. If they had propensities for violence, eighty-five years would probably be enough for that to have become apparent. So what IS that file for?

    Furthermore, the bad things that happen to innocent people when they get caught in these webs is only one side of the problem. The other side is that investigating political dissidents is seductive. It's seductive because it is so much easier to eat cookies with a bunch of Quakers than to ferret out real terrorists. It's seductive because if you have a hundred agents out there trying to find Al Qaeda cells the odds are good that most of them are going to come up empty but if you send a hundred agents out to gather intelligence about antiwar activists you can easily generate stacks of information about their activities. Whatever time those government agents spend at Quaker meetings is time they are not spending following up on guys who are learning to fly large jet aircraft but perversely showing no interest in learning how to takeoff or land. It's time they aren't spending learning to read Arabic or to better understand or investigate real terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda--who have already taken their issues with our government way, way beyond the legal limits. People somehow think this stuff makes us safer but the opposite is true.

  • Tradition Bound (unverified)

    <block>We still enjoy greater political and free speech freedoms than any other nation in the history of the world.

    And we will continue to do so--right up until the day when we don't.</block>

    I am sceptical that we would recognize when we don't. Do we really have "greater political and free speech freedoms" than Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, South Africa, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea ... I think there is now a long list of countrys that have guarantees of freedom similar to those in the United States and some may already actually have more freedom in practice. As far as I know none of the above countries are holding any people in prison indefinitely without charge, muchless their own citizens.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    You are fooling yourselves if you believe the DoD spends as much time and energy spying on the Quakers as y'all have devoted to said topic on this thread. Rest assured: the DoD is much more interested in Al Qaida than the local friends meeting, or random lefty coalitions.

    When President Reagan was in office, you were the ones that were shouting he was going to make the cold war hot if he didn't sign the test ban treaty. When Bush 41 was in office, you were shouting that we had no business trying to liberate Kuwait (lots of excellent John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy quotes, if y'all are interested). When Bush 43 came into office, you shouted "election fraud" and when he prepared for the invasion of Iraq you suggested it was simply a "war for oil." Upon President Bush's reelection you suggested he rigged the voting machines in Ohio, or distorted Kerry's record on this or that, or used scare tactics to supress voter turnout. Blah, blah, blah.

    In a nutshell, you believe that everything the Republicans do is bad. Anything the Democrats do is good (except for getting a hummer in the oral office, which is none of anybody's business). It is a tired and simplistic view of a complex world. BlueOregon deserves better. Let's all put on our critical thinking hats and see if we can elevate the discussion to the ninth grade level.

    Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

    Paranoia will destroy ya.

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    So, WBAII (or The Bill of Rights, maybe, since you're both using the same URL?), is your point that it's okay for the DoD to do this because it's not their main focus? As long as they are spending more time fighting terrorists, they can spend a little of their time spying on Quakers?

    Now that truly is a tired and simplistic view of a complex world.

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    Having been exposed on national television by NBC, the DoD cops to the problem and says it will expunge the improperly collected information.

    Funny. I thought they didn't do anything wrong, or it was no big deal. That's what people here have been saying anyway.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    B!XiE: y!u d0n'T l!ke mE vEr! muCh d0 y@u? So sad. I was hoping we could have eggnog lattes, or something. How about a big Portland shout out to CORPORATE MEDIA! What's up NBC: did G.E. cut you lose for sweeps week? That's my network, DOG!

    The DoD and FBI are both very large bureacracies, right? Very large bureaucracies are bound to make mistakes. My thesis is that you are blowing these mistakes (aka "exceptions to the rule") out of proportion to their actual occurrence or significance. As Otter (from Animal House) said, "What a shame that a few bad apples have to spoil a good time for everyone by breaking the rules."

    So the Pentagon kept some data they shouldn't have. Now that they've been "outed" they have agreed to expunge the data. A free press, a functioning democracy, a chain of command that doesn't want to get fired (or make their boss look bad), and voila: data expunged. The system is working: you should celebrate that, not (see "Tradition Bound") suggest that South Koreans or Jamaicans enjoy greater freedoms than Americans. Unlikely, based on my limited knowledge base.

    You may recall the scene in Animal House when the Delta boys are on trial, and Otter says, "The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did." Of course they did, and so did the Pentagon.

    (paraphrasing follows)...?But you can't hold a whole Defense Department responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the entire Federal Bureaucracy? And if the entire Federal Bureacracy is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our institutions in general? I put it to you, B!X- isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen! Whistling ensued.

    I am much more worried about an overreaching neighborhood association, or drunk drivers, or a 911 calling center that is not adequately staffed. They are all much greater threats to my personal well being than the omniscient pentagon spooks, or FBI moles. Get real!

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    b!x & pat -- thanks for your comments in here. (pat, i've already said you are my new hero.)

    there are not a lot of things we need to be absolute about in our politics. with 300 million of us, we have to do a lot of compromising. the list of things we do not compromise on is rather small, but it includes, first and foremost, the Bill of Rights. the Supreme Court may, now and then, declare limits to some rights (and reveal we have other rights we were previously unaware of, like privacy), but as citizen-guardians of our republic (thanks for saying it, pat: we are the government), we must defend with absolute vigilance our rights in the Constitution. i don't think the NRA reads the 2nd Amendment right, but at least they hold the line. they must.

    how much clearer could the 4th amendment be? how do secret searches by the FBI not fall foul of it? because we are scared of terrorists, suddenly the Bill of Rights becomes null and void? because some politicians declare we are at war with terror, the 1st Amendment's guarantee of free assembly is tossed aside? i know it's a good enough reason for our "christian" president to authorize his massive violation of "thou shalt not kill", but we are better than that. our leaders fail us relentlessly, but we are the nation. they are only elected officials. we are the citizens who are the nation. we can reject their abuses, their fear, their desire for power. and we must. if we do not hold ourselves and our leaders to the highest possible standards, even in times of dire emergency and terrible danger, we flush away our rights to those rights. we sink back into the mire of tyranny.

    just ask the japanese-american "terrorists" we locked up in ww2. we were wrong then, and we're wrong now to subjugate our rights to our fears. we have to do better than that. we have to be better than that.

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    The problem is not just with what this Administration is doing: spying on lawful, peaceful political organizations, it's what they are not doing in response to the very real threat of terrorism. We are inspecting just 2% of all the cargo entering our ports, failing to adequately prioritize world poverty reduction, and refusing to implement a serious long-term energy plan or view energy independence as the national security issue it is.

    The truth is that the Bush administration is all-too-happy to have a civil liberties with the ACLU and others, rather than address structural, root-cause issues that are equally as important as taking off your shoes at the airport. They just don't take such talk seriously, and view "root cause" issues with the same disdain as Bush had with "nation-building" during the 2000 campaign. Yes, religious fundamentalism is fueling much of the hatred, but we should work to do everything we can to create an environment in which terrorism recruitment is a helluva lot harder.

    We need to be smart about how we fight terrorism, and one of the worst things about targeting and spying on a bunch of Quaker pacificists is that doing so is making us less safe. It's a waste of resources - when meanwhile, there are real threats that we're ignoring because of this Administration's narrow ideological approach to yet another critical problem.

  • Tradition Bound (unverified)

    "Let's all put on our critical thinking hats and see if we can elevate the discussion to the ninth grade level."

    "B!XiE: y!u d0n'T l!ke mE vEr! muCh d0 y@u? So sad."

    I see your point.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    You TB: we call it "irony" in my country...supposed to elicit chuckles and sarcastic replies...So thank you for caring!


    I agree with your policy objectives (addressing the "root causes"). I believe you underestimate Bush's comprehensive approach, and overestimate the time/energy/expense our government is devoting to "spying on Quaker pacifists".

    We can also agree that cargo containers represent the single biggest threat of a catastrophic attack, followed closely by our still pourous borders. Domestic wackos are the third biggest threat (think Tim McVey or the Portland Seven): that's why I am pleased to see the Patriot Act is likely to be renewed.

    Criticize what you will about the Bushies, they are still the hometown team. Anybody that is unable to root for the hometown team is putting their politics ahead of their self-interest. Anybody that sees moral equivalency between Bush and Saddam (or fails to distinguish between them in black and white terms) is not living in the real world.

  • horsewithnonick (unverified)

    Food for thought:

    Germany was one of the world's more enlightened democracies in the 1920's.

    Germany went from benevolent democracy to dictatorship and institutionalized mass murder in about fifteen years.

  • Tradition Bound (unverified)

    "they are still the hometown team. "

    So the owners shouldn't criticize them when they repeatedly drop the ball?

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Criticize the team all you want. Please don't call a news conference to tell all the journalists that you are going to fire the coach, or that you think all the players are stupid, lazy, corrupt, inept, and not worthy of being on your team (Nancy Pelosi style).

    It makes the other teams (and their owners) believe you are in disarray. It may even invite some cheap shots, or embolden the officials (i.e. the U.N. or the French) to treat your team with something less than objectivity.

  • LT (unverified)

    So, how does this Washington Post blog (along with the NBC story) fit into the analogy about the "team"?


    Please don't call a news conference to tell all the journalists that you are going to fire the coach, or that you think all the players are stupid, lazy, corrupt, inept, and not worthy of being on your team (Nancy Pelosi style).

    I hope no one is saying that a Washington Post blog is somehow "Nancy Pelosi style". I don't see how she got into a discussion of Pentagon activity unless the implication is that no one is allowed to criticize the actions of the Pentagon.

    Too many combat vets have said we have that right to question the actions of our government. And didn't I hear on a "this day in history" radio segment this morning that today is the birthday of the Bill of Rights?

  • Oye (unverified)

    from the citation above...The comment below summarizes my opinion on the matter...http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/

    The intelligence folks are trying to do a job. I intend to do mine--which is anything I want to do or say. I expect them to do their--stay out of my way. If there's something I don't want people to know, I'll make sure that they don't know it. The answer to what they are doing is for us to do what's our right. So they have a file on me. Big deal. I have a file on them. I know that columnists have to write about this issue in order to keep their income, and that's their right. It's the resonsibility of citizens to be smart enough to discount the ravings of the media by balancing biases and trusting them as much as they trust politicians to tell the truth. Duh. So this is a blog, huh?

    Posted by: Jack Cole | Dec 15, 2005 11:30:06 AM

  • Oye (unverified)

    Here'a a link to righty columnist Michael Graham...He uses the same "good guy/bad guy" labels mentioned previously...Freak!

  • Jon (unverified)

    The right to free assembly is a pretty important component part of American democracy. And that includes the right to not worry about the cops taking down your names.

    I think this is petty sad too, but last I checked, all the First Amendment says is they cannot stop you from assembly, nothing about watching you do it, or taking notes.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    • attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the great American pragmatist.
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    Animal House and "the hometown team"--and we're supposed to believe you have a clue how the FBI etc. are apportioning their resources?

    Don't trip over your pom poms or slip on the leftovers from your last food fight on the way out.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)


    I'm trying to write for the B.O. audience: if I began citing Foreign Affairs or Richard and Daniel Pipes, I'm afraid their eyes would glaze over. Heaven forbid I quote Daniel Henninger from the WSJ! I could be banned for life. I had hoped the references to classic movies would appeal to the 8th grader sense of humor in all of us.

    But thanks for the ad hominem attack: it serves as a reminder that people are challenging their existing beliefs. Feels kind of uncomfortable, doesn't it?

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    No, Bruce, you don't make me uncomfortable. Just incredulous. Go ahead and try bringing your grownup self and we may find something to talk about.

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    By the way, thanks for sharing the information that your rhetorical approach stems from your sense of superiority over Blue Oregon readers. It's always good to know where we stand.

    That you project a discomfort with challenging my beliefs onto me probably says something about you but certainly not about me. I'm a scientist at heart. Challenging my own existing beliefs is something I do constantly and quite cheerfully.

    I'm happy to have help with that and enjoy conversing with people. Like you, I don't give everyone's opinions equal weight. Apparently unlike you, I find it more useful to discriminate based on the evidence provided and the logic of the arguments rather than on where the author of the opinion falls on the political spectrum.

    b!X cited history and provided facts. Undocumented assertions that the facts aren't facts carry no weight. Assertions that the facts don't matter, based not on logical argument but merely on personal belief, are worth equally little.

    (Besides, bet my humorous sally at your expense got more smiles than yours--neener, neener, neener.)

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Doretta: per your request, the below excerpt from Daniel Pipes may challenge your current belief structure. [Ad hominem attack that would make Bruce look partisan deleted by George W. Bush, under NSA order 356 dated 12:16:05. Class: TOP SECRET]...

    What does the Arabic word jihad mean?

    One answer came last week, when Saddam Hussein had his Islamic leaders appeal to Muslims worldwide to join his jihad to defeat the "wicked Americans" should they attack Iraq; then he himself threatened the United States with jihad.

    As this suggests, jihad is "holy war." Or, more precisely: It means the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims.

    The purpose of jihad, in other words, is not directly to spread the Islamic faith but to extend sovereign Muslim power (faith, of course, often follows the flag). Jihad is thus unabashedly offensive in nature, with the eventual goal of achieving Muslim dominion over the entire globe.

    Jihad did have two variant meanings through the centuries, one more radical, one less so. The first holds that Muslims who interpret their faith differently are infidels and therefore legitimate targets of jihad. (This is why Algerians, Egyptians and Afghans have found themselves, like Americans and Israelis, so often the victims of jihadist aggression.) The second meaning, associated with mystics, rejects the legal definition of jihad as armed conflict and tells Muslims to withdraw from the worldly concerns to achieve spiritual depth.

    Jihad in the sense of territorial expansion has always been a central aspect of Muslim life. That's how Muslims came to rule much of the Arabian Peninsula by the time of the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632. It's how, a century later, Muslims had conquered a region from Afghanistan to Spain. Subsequently, jihad spurred and justified Muslim conquests of such territories as India, Sudan, Anatolia, and the Balkans.

    Today, jihad is the world's foremost source of terrorism, inspiring a worldwide campaign of violence by self-proclaimed jihadist groups (list deleted).

    click here for more Daniel Pipes

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    Bruce, in addition to making the faulty assumption that the ideas you quoted are new to me, you seem to have strayed off topic.

    What's Muslim jihad got to do with abuse of power by our government?

    You think Dick Cheney is secretly a Muslim jihadist?

    You think abuse of power is limited to Muslims?

    You think that if Muslim jihadists are a threat then no one else can be?

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    So the truth is:

    USA taxpayers had built up the mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the '80s, (under Geo. 'hitler-verker' Bush ... you didn't think Reagan knew where he was, did you? Counting these two terms of his son's proxy, G.H-V B. has been POTUS for five terms.), insurgencing out the Soviets then, and the coalition of Afghan tribal groups USA controlled there, was later known as the so-called Northern Alliance, in 2001. During the '90s, 'our' coalition got the poppy growing going in Afghan and was trafficking out billions of dollars of opium per year, mostly to Europe, under the watchful eye of the CIA, (illegal drug smuggling is the CIA trademark, since its origins in its WWII agents' missions, and all along which you have already heard about -- the 'truth serum' and LSD chemistry research in the '50s; Golden Triangle heroin and 'Thai sticks' out of 'Nam in the '60s; Legionnaires' disease and hepatitis-C and HIV 'mutations' in the mid-'70s immediately after the creation of the first synthesized interferon, the requisite and sufficient substance for gene-splicing feasibility; the crack cocaine 'formula' of the '80s, the meth 'formula' using 'common household over-the-counter' chemicals in the '90s -- it's entire existence the CIA has been in the penumbra of global drug trafficking, now estimated as (6) hundreds of billions of dollars per year and the 'safe passage' payoff as much as a third of it, so the known-secret "40 billion dollars" of US taxpayer money is not the only, nor the richest, source of funding for CIA operations -- if you ever knew a Chemical Engineering student in college: Who hired them? Where are they now?) The pius Afghanis, later known as the so-called Taliban, shut down the Northern Alliance poppy crop in the '90s. The CIA didn't like that.

    Skipping a lot of detail, there are several 'Iraq war' reports of Iraqi 'role playing' incidents, such as the British soldiers captured in costume as Iraqi 'insurgents.' Read reports at GlobalResearch.canada.

    There was the intelligence-agents-guarded munitions depot at al-Kaka -- looted mysteriously, cleaned out. Read: US taxpayers supplied munitions to Iraq 'insurgency' side. There cannot possibly be a munitions factory in Iraq that high-tech surveillance does not see. There cannot possibly be munitions couriers crossing borders into Iraq that high-tech survelllance does not see. There cannot possibly be so little as a sand spider move a muscle in any square foot of Iraq that high-tech surveillance does not see. (See alse, Blue Oregon thread on 'Google Earth.') Unless, that is, do you think so, that Iraq insurgents possibly manufacture or import munitions without detection? Not likely. So where are the insurgents getting their bomb materials, after 30-some months -- what, merely left-over supply? Which wasn't there in the first place, 2003?

    One door of perception into an Iraq war, which is NOT a US voters' Congress's declared war, where the local indigenous population is called 'insurgents,' where low-tech agrarian and nomadic culture facilities keep coming up with a seemingly endless supply of high-tech modern war munitions, weapons, and tactics -- sees it as all one big Red Army / Blue Army 'war game' exercise. BOTH SIDES are US taxpayer supported! It's us against us. CIA good cop, CIA bad cop. Two arms of the same monster, arm-wrestling itself. Such a 'war' could go on unending. In fact, it is not intended that there ever be a winner. Only perpetual conflict.

    So, one orchestrating such a 'show' war has to keep both sides supplied and in the 'game.' That's one way to look at what's in Iraq. Probably it is difficult to leap the mind to that conclusion in a single sitting, so don't hurry to it. Just keep the perspective in the back of your mind, as a possibility, and with whatever news reports you recall or that come out later, test them for fit with this hypothesis. See how much this perception can explain events and things in the news which have no reasonable logical explanation. Just think about it.

    Now, the hard-working troll living under the propaganda bridge here, went off on the definition of 'jihad.' All maximum bogus. So to consider: the definition of al Qaeda:

    Al Qaeda -- the Database, by Pierre-Henri Bunel, Nov. 20, 2005.

    Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that "Al Qaeda" is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Courtesy of World Affairs, a journal based in New Delhi, WMR can bring you an important excerpt from an Apr.-Jun. 2004 article by Pierre-Henry Bunel, a former agent for French military intelligence. -- Wayne Madsen Report

    "I first heard about Al-Qaida while I was attending the Command and Staff course in Jordan. I was a French officer at that time and the French Armed Forces had close contacts and cooperation with Jordan . . .

    "Two of my Jordanian colleagues were experts in computers. They were air defense officers. Using computer science slang, they introduced a series of jokes about students' punishment.

    "For example, when one of us was late at the bus stop to leave the Staff College, the two officers used to tell us: 'You'll be noted in 'Q eidat il-Maaloomaat' which meant 'You'll be logged in the information database.'

    Meet "Al Qaeda"

    "Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden's personal property . . .

    "The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the 'TV watcher' to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money."

    In yet another example of what happens to those who challenge the system, in December 2001, Maj. Pierre-Henri Bunel was convicted by a secret French military court of passing classified documents that identified potential NATO bombing targets in Serbia to a Serbian agent during the Kosovo war in 1998. Bunel's case was transferred from a civilian court to keep the details of the case classified. Bunel's character witnesses and psychologists notwithstanding, the system "got him" for telling the truth about Al Qaeda and who has actually been behind the terrorist attacks commonly blamed on that group. It is noteworthy that that Yugoslav government, the government with whom Bunel was asserted by the French government to have shared information, claimed that Albanian and Bosnian guerrillas in the Balkans were being backed by elements of "Al Qaeda." We now know that these guerrillas were being backed by money provided by the Bosnian Defense Fund, an entity established as a special fund at Bush-influenced Riggs Bank and directed by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.

    See also, and its archives: Wayne Madsen Report.com. The remedy for lack of information is more information, not dysinformation.

  • WBAII (unverified)

    Doretta: Dick Cheney the Jihadist? That's funny. Look, you used satire. Good for you!

    I believe the war on terror is a real war, a religious war (at least from the enemy's perspective), and a war that was waged against us for years before we joined the battle. Clinton's cruise missile volleys excluded, the U.S. took several direct hits from Al Qaeda without recognizing we were at war. Worse yet, we failed to respond in a manner that would have demonstrated that asymmetrical warfare from a non-national source could be met with either a powerful or effective U.S. response. To put it simply: Al Qaeda bloodied our nose several times, and our political leadership simply yawned, and went back to sleep. If you want to handcuff the executive branch of government, it will diminish the effectiveness of their response. That troubles me, it ought to trouble you. I assume that if you understood the nature and severity of the threat, you would share my concern. Hence, the link to Daniel Pipes.

    Richard Rescorla, and others, felt that Al Qaeda was committed to the destruction of the WTC towers. He was shouting into the abyss, because our political leadership was too arrogant to believe that our enemy was so committed, or would devise a plan capable of defeating the additional security measures put into place after the first WTC (truck) bombing. Daniel Pipes has been an advocate of treating Jihadists as the expansionist cancer that they are.

    You tell 'em Tenskawatawa. It's nice to see somebody has a handle on the TRUTH. To paraphrase: we have met the enemy, and he is us. That is your point, right?

    And you have all those interesting websites and data to back you up. I especially like the part about George Bush being a Borg. Are you sure it's not just a wrinkle in the lining of his coat? Mine does that all the time if I reach out, or give Captain Kirk a hug.

    Click on my name, or this link for more internet truth

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Hey, blathering puppet mouth: The point is al Qaeda as an organization, an entity, a corpus -- is a myth. A fiction. A lie every time you say 'it' exists.

    Al Qaeda as a list of named individuals is all it is, and in each case has been the name of CIA operatives or 'controlled assets.' That is, r e a l, s l o w, Osama is employed by, and partially paid by US taxpayers, Zarqawi is employed by, and partially paid by US taxpayers. Go down the list of names -- it's just a data base of names -- and every one of them a CIA 'controlled asset' with long previous CIA association, (Saddam 'recruited as CIA asset' in 1959, as a student in exile in Cairo), and al Qaeda is American financed. Osama is OUR GUY, there, puppet mouth liar. Or, if you can think for yourself, pop quiz: Why haven't we 'caught' Osama? He is OUR GUY, according to CIA pay records; what's YOUR explanation? Question 2: Why did US goverment -- OUR TEAM -- airlift evacuate bin Ladens and other Saudi 'royals' the two days after 9/11, when all aviation was grounded?

    And, killer, Question 3, demanding an answer from the voice that thinks for itself but lies in its every comment speech here: How did 'law enforcement' know the names to publish of 19 Nine-Eleven Op hijackers later that same day, when none of them had purchased a ticket, none of them were on the Boarded Passengers manifest which the airlines supplied to the Press asking at the boarding gates.

    So where did CIA/FBI get the 19 names? Easy, they were all in the data base, names the CIA collected for Bush Sinister in the '80s. And the link is given to the documentation sustaining that answer. Now your turn, you go.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)


    Your are crawling so far out the long skinny branch of irrational thought that even the lefties will question your sanity. Just because you have internalized all the wacko websites you read doesn't make them true: they are deeply flawed conspiracy theories bereft of any mainstream credibility.

    Just because it's printed on some website doesn't make it so.

    To address two of your more cogent allegations:

    1. Osama was on the CIA payroll when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan: old news. Call it the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" corollary to Hama Rules. Similarly Saddam Hussein received American support when he was fighting Iran (in our pursuit of a regional balance of power). Sadly, neither of them had the good sense to stay bought, and both would eventually bite the hand that was feeding them.

    Ironically, Saddam was recently quoted as saying that Jacque Chirac is one of his dearest friends. Y'all admire the French so much, it's worth noting that the French were much closer to the Tyrant of Iraq than the U.S. In summary: a superpower may find it useful to cooperate with lesser powers that are anathema to their values if it advances the geopolitical or diplomatic cause. It was convenient. I know how much the left loves public radio, so about a few lines of TRUTH from the British Broadcasting Service... Quoting the BBC:

    France has historically been Iraq's best friend in the West. The special relationship began three decades ago, when General de Gaulle cultivated Arab countries in the wake of the 1967 war in the Middle East. This policy was seen by Paris as a way of boosting trade ties with oil-rich nations and extending French influence in an area which had been dominated by the "Anglo-Saxons".

    In 1974 Jacques Chirac called Saddam Hussein a personal friend By 1970 France was one of Iraq's main trading partners. Diplomatic and economic ties were given a crucial boost in 1974, when the then French Prime Minister, and current President, Jacques Chirac, called Saddam Hussein a personal friend; his government agreed to build an experimental nuclear reactor near Baghdad, which was later bombed by Israel. Arms sales continued apace, as did French infrastructure projects in Iraq; by the late 1970s France was second only to the USSR as supplier of both civilian and military equipment to the Iraqis.

    The trend continued under French socialist governments in the 1980s. Like other Western countries, France strongly backed Iraq in its war against Iran. Paris supplied Baghdad with sophisticated weaponry, including Mirage fighter bombers and Super Etendard aircraft equipped with Exocet missiles. When the Iraqis found it hard to pay up, Paris rescheduled the debt.

    On your second point (evacuation of Saudi nationals after 9/11/2001): Given the fear of how the American public may react in the fervor following the murder of 3,000 Americans, the Saudis made a decision to evacuate their citizens post haste. They were granted an exception to the no flight rules by the State Department (I believe Richard Clarke was involved in the decision making, ironically). I wish they had not been permitted to leave before the FBI and CIA had an opportunity to question them, but our political leaders felt otherwise. Do you really believe President Clinton would have reacted any differently? We can agree it was a bad decision, that doesn't make the State Department complicit in 9/11 planning or execution.

    The rest of your piffle does not merit a response.

    Happy Holidays to all who had the stomach to read this entire thread!

  • (Show?)

    Bruce, I exhort you to leave that assumptions-based life behind and join the reality-based community.

    Your assumption is entirely wrong. I don't discount the threat from Islamists. And, by the way, at least the Clinton administration recognized there was a threat and was trying to do something about it. Must be hard for you that the other W. discounted the threat completely until Osama and co. rubbed his nose in it.

    In any case, I'm able to keep two thoughts in my head at once. The existence of one threat does not render all other threats inconsequential. I'm at least as concerned about threat of totalitarianism from within (the actual subject of this thread) as I am about Islamists. It's not as likely to lead to serious bloodshed in the very short term, but the long, storied history of totalitarianism speaks for itself with respect to the likely long run consequences.

    Suing the goverment over abuses by the FBI may not be as romantic as the religious war you envision--there probably isn't a best selling video game to be had in it--but that doesn't make it unimportant.

    It's easy to be just another complacent American who thinks that because we've had it pretty darn good here for a couple hundred years a decent, nontotalitarian government is a given. The founders of our country, being a lot closer to the problem than most of us have ever been, knew better. That's why we have a bill of rights. I think it's important that we keep it.

    I reject the notion that other threats are so critical that we should suspend the freedoms granted by our constitution, or in fact, that doing so makes us substantially safer.

    How many thousands of pages on the ACLU or Quakers do the FBI have to generate before the effort becomes counterproductive in your mind? If two government agents spend a day tracking down a college student who made an interlibrary loan request for Chairman Mao's little red book for a class paper, that's a day they don't spend doing something more substantial. Even more importantly in that case, consider the harm that's done when a college professor no longer feels free to help his students learn about the methods and consequences of terrorism?

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Doretta writes: I'm at least as concerned about threat of totalitarianism from within...as I am about Islamists.

    We will have to agree to disagree. In my opinion, a religious movement bent on expanionism and murder is a greater threat than George Bush's "totalitarianism." I would suggest the creeping totalitarianism you fear is so inconsequential as to barely register on any objective measure of lost liberties. The Bill of Rights remains fully intact, unless you are suspected of making international phone calls/emails to Al Qaeda contacts abroad. Too bad the Islamicists were tipped off by the New York Times.

    You have intentionally misrepresented my views: I did not say I view the war on terror as a relgious war: the Islamicists do. I certainly see no romanticism in a religious war, and I'm not motivated by my own religion.

    I recognize the radicalized Islamo-Fascists are a small minority of all muslims, but we must confront them head on. If we are lulled into a false sense of security (as before 9/11), then we create the conditions necessary for them to harm us. We must be vigilant. That may require electronic eavesdropping on international phone calls. That may require the City of Portland to cooperate with the JTTF. That may require all the wild-eyed lefties to ask themselves if their life is more important than their sacred liberty.

    I believe my life is more important than peripheral liberties (like knowing my library books, email, or web wanderings may be available to the government). I don't mind knowing that ALL inbound international phone calls are subject to Federal interdiction: I trust they will focus on those calls with the greatest potential value.

    I am much more concerned about Safeway tracking my grocery purchases, or Google following my searches, than I am worried about the Feds. I am much more annoyed that "freedom of speech" now includes live sex acts, or 18 year old women dancing naked in strip clubs, than I am worried about George Bush and his henchmen impinging on my civil rights.

    I couldn't disagree more with your categorization of me as a "just another complacent american." To the contrary, I am trying to persuade the complacent reactionaries (if the government wants to pry, it must be bad) that the government is us, and is undertaking these efforts on our behalf to protect all of us.

    Tenkse would have you believe that we are the same as Al Qaida. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we are the same people as the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA: they come from our ranks.

  • (Show?)

    I value both life and liberty, indeed I don't find liberty peripheral to life at all.

    Yes the FBI, etc are "us". We are the key to our own survival. We are a very powerful country. External threats, even serious ones, seriously threaten us only as far as our internal weaknesses allow it.

    The Bush administration has weakened us considerably in the last five years on many fronts. They have their own agenda and it's about their power, not about our safety. 9/11 becomes the justification for anything and everything they do to consolidate their power and you believe them.

    Yes, we will just have to agree to disagree.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Doretta: you are welcome to the last word, unless you twist my words beyond recognition. I said I am willing to sacrifice "peripheral liberties"; a far cry from saying liberty is peripheral to life.

    To reiterate: I welcome the Feds to read my email, eavesdrop on my international phone calls, or review my list of library books. If these minor incursions on my personal liberty will prevent the loss of a single American life, it will be worth the sacrifice.

    To say, "External threats...threaten us only as far as our internal weaknesses allow it" is a classic non-sequitur. On the contrary, External threats exist without regards to our internal weaknesses. Our internal shortcomings (i.e. the Oregonian photos of the "weakest link" in our water grid) may expose our weaknesses, but it does nothing to change the nature of the external threat. What is, is.

    Hate the Bushies and/or the Feds all you want, but you should give them credit where credit is due. They can (and have) protected us from foreign terrorists; you can do very little to protect us from foreign terrorists (you wrote, "We are the key to our own survival).

  • (Show?)

    Now who's twisting? "Us" includes the Feds, it was your definition, remember? It's your neocon pals who hate the feds, not me. I just think we have checks and balances and institutional limits on power because history tells us things tend to get out of hand if we don't.

    The problem with those "minor incursions" on your personal liberty is that you don't get to decide what's on that list and neither do I. I'm fine with you choosing to make sacrifices. If they came to me with a good reason they should be doing it to me, I might well give them permission myself. The problem is, they aren't asking. It's the difference between making sacrifices and being sacrificed.

    I don't think it works for you or the Bush administration to trade away my liberties for someone else's life. Where does that calculation end? How many people do we imprison indefinitely with no determination of guilt or innocence if we can save one other innocent person's life? How many people do we get to torture to death to save some other innocent people's lives? I only wish those were hypothetical questions.

    The framers of our Constitution had those kinds of trade-offs very much in mind. We should too.

    Sorry you could not follow my comments about external threats and internal weaknesses. I agree, if you walk up to me with a raised fist ready to hit me, you are independent of me and you are a threat. However, the extent and nature of the threat you pose to me has every bit as much to do with me and my strength and resources as it has to do with your independent existence. How threatened I am is very different depending on whether I'm unarmed and in a wheelchair, carrying and skilled in using an assault rifle or have a PPB SERT team standing behind me (or better yet, in front of me). If I'm alone in the wheelchair it may matter a great deal how big you are, if the SERT team is there it matters almost not at all.

    I don't think we have to worry too much about last words. I'm sure everyone else has gone on to better things. When I poke and prod I'm not trying to score points, I'm trying to get to what's really what.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Doretta writes, "it's about their power, not about our safety." Fairly definitive statement, don't you think?

    Hard to believe "us" includes the Feds or George Bush when you rant about "how many people do we get to torture to death to save some other innocent people's lives

    I'm thinking you'd have a real hard time even including the FBI in your "us" grouping.

    The great irony is that all of those people are your hypothetical SERT team, and your trying to poke their eyes out.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    W. Bruce's writing makes it easy for me to understand how the German people allowed Hitler to rise to power.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    65 posts to "HITLER" ladies and gentlemen. Not a record, but still a good time.

    If I believe my fellow citizens lives are more important than the sanctity of your email and (suspected) telephone calls from Al Qaeda, then I'm greasing the wheels on the next train to Dachau.

    Y'all deserve Gore and Kerry: they know they're right, just like Tom and Doretta. You don't stand a snowball's chance if you don't start crawling towards the vast American middle.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    Hitler had communists, Jews, homosexuals, and Gypsys.

    Shrub has al Qaeda, Friends, homosexuals, and scientists.

    Boogeymen are the lifesblood of fascism. You are spooked by boogeymen, or else put little value on the rights that keep people free.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, W., I do find that other W., Cheney, Wolfowitz etc to be very problematic members of "us". We need an FBI, the one we have has a somewhat problematic record but there are a lot of people there trying to do the right things. It's part of what we need to do as citizens to help them move away from the counterproductive stuff toward the useful stuff, that's the heart of this thread for me. It's not about poking their eyes out, it's about keeping their eyes on the prize.

    You are once again completely mistaken about me, really, your assumptions are getting the better of you constantly in this discussion. I'm much more middle-of-the-road American than you are.

    "Hitler/Nazi", like "terrorist" can become just a knee jerk catch-all for "something I will invoke because everyone will recognize it as bad and dangerous". Just watch that other W. use the word terrorist and you can see how it works.

    On the other hand, Hitler and company were responsible for the deaths of many millions of human beings. The Islamist terrorists you fear so much are pikers next to them--way, way out of that league. Hitler et al should serve as the strongest cautionary tale currently available to humanity. I think it's really interesting the way you right wingers denigrate even the most valid and obvious parallels to what happened as Hitler came to power. That was the hardest most costly lesson ever served up to humanity and yet you and your ilk do your best to discount it. You can't refute Tom's observation, so you substitute scoffing.

    Here's the lesson of Hitler in a nutshell: if you want to terrorize your fellow human beings and do real, serious damage, the best weapon of mass destruction is not chemical, not biological and not nuclear. The most effective terror weapon available is a powerful government of a rich and powerful country.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Middle of the road my ass, Doretta:

    You not only feel it is your personal obligation to supervise the FBI, NSA, and CIA; you believe the Fed's willingness to denigrate the Bill of Rights is an objectively greater threat than Al Qaeda.

    PLLLEEEAAAASSSEEEE. You'd be a centrist in Pyongyang, maybe.

    Step away from the computer, Doretta. We have you surrounded. Place your hands on top of your head and stand up very slowly...Face away from me and walk slowly towards my voice. The frigging paranoia is literally oozing off of the screen. You and Tenske should get together and compare notes: he's got some real interesting website you may want to check out. Ask him to show you the pictures that prove President Bush is really a Borg.

  • (Show?)

    I absolutely guarantee that my views on political issues track with the majority more often than yours do. You truly can't see me at all through your preconceptions.

    In any case, I can see you've given up pretending to any semblance of rational discussion now so I'm done.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    It's shameful that an unmitigated troll such as that W. has been allowed to hijack a thread of such importace and timeliness as this one. Just what has he contributed to the subject matter to warrant such attention? His last post has no place at all here, being merely a personal attack.

    What's worse is that important new developments, on-topic ones, have been drowned out. I hope that not everyone has been turned away by distraction.

    The President has admitted that the story broken by the NYT was true, that he had the NSA engage in domestic spying without the impediment (ineffectual as it may be) of going to the FISA court for a warrant. I didn't believe that expediency was what necessitating such an egregious contravention of Constitutional guarantees of due process.

    Indeed, the Washington Post article of Thursday Judges on Surveillance Court To Be Briefed on Spy Program shows the reason: "Sources knowledgeable about the program said there is no way to secure a FISA warrant when the goal is to listen in on a vast array of communications in the hopes of finding something that sounds suspicious. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the White House had tried but failed to find a way."

    It's just stultifying. All Americans using mass communications are now potential terrorism suspects. There's no way to know what might trigger an investigation by the secret police, so any exercise of free speech brings risk of being branded a suspect. No way for them to put a happy face on that.

    The justification is simply that he's the "War President." Did I miss a declaration of martial law? Short of that, I reject his excuse, as surely will all who respect the Constitution.

    I will ignore any further bluster from trolls, and I implore that other serious bloggers do so, too.

  • (Show?)

    Ed -- We're continuing to work on technological solutions here at BlueOregon HQ, but the best approach is this one:

    I will ignore any further bluster from trolls, and I implore that other serious bloggers do so, too.


  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Funny how much time and energy the left spends on protecting THEIR freedom of expression.

    I took the time to explain why mainstream America is more worried by the threat of terrorism than our own government's "totalitarianism," and I am dismissed as an extremist, a Nazi, or a troll. Perhaps you ought to call it "free speech for those who agree with us." Or how about a new tagline..."Blue Oregon: defending liberal belief structures from Nazis and trolls."

    Until you learn how to engage middle American on their terms, you will continue to have back bench status in the Congress, and fringe status in all but the most liberal venues (like B.O.) It was the lack of critical thinking, and the emphasis on politics over national interest, that drove me from the Democratic Party. It is clear that things haven't changed since then.

    Here's an idea, Bickford: put your hands over your eyes when you get to my post, and simply scroll down until you see the name of somebody that you usually agree with. And when the man on the T.V. says something you disagree with, try putting your hands over your ears, and singing "LA LA LA LA LA, I'm not listening to you, LA LA LA LA LA" Grow up.

    Talk amongst yourselves: much sound and fury; signifying nothing.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    For the record, I did not suggest that W. is a Nazi, but that he is as gullible as the a typical German citizen of the nineteen-thirties.

    It seems a common conservative trait to be able to recognize words, but not to understand complete sentences. Then, of course, there is Shrub, who has big trouble with words, even one at a time.

  • Neville (unverified)

    Tom Civiletti:

    Hitler's path to military hegemony in Europe would not have been possible without a pacifist Europe (Britain in particular) that refused to enforce the armament limitations placed on Germany following WW1. To suggest that German citizens were "gullible" oversimplifies the many socioeconomic factors which gave rise to the Nazis. It also implies a democratic accession to power which is accurate only up to 1937, when Hitler assumed dictatorial powers.

    <h2>The following is the wording of the printed statement that Neville Chamberlain waved as he stepped off the plane on 30 September, 1938 after the Munich Conference had ended the day before:</h2>

    "We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."

    Chamberlain read the above statement in front of 10 Downing St. and said:

    "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

    MORAL OF THE STORY: The blind pursuit of peace may lead to war.

  • (Show?)

    Hitler's path to military hegemony in Europe would not have been possible without a pacifist Europe (Britain in particular) that refused to enforce the armament limitations placed on Germany following WW1.

    Even if you accept this as true, it's irrelevant to the issue at hand. The fact that the German populace putting a stop to it was only one of many things that could have prevented Hitler's ascension doesn't diminish their responsibility in any way.

    ...To suggest that German citizens were "gullible" oversimplifies the many socioeconomic factors which gave rise to the Nazis.

    The fact that the German populace had some compelling reasons not to get in the way of Hiter coming to power only underscores the parallels with Americans' legitimate concerns about terrorism.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: The blind pursuit of peace may lead to war.

    True, but not nearly as reliably as the blind pursuit of war does.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    Your point is well taken. If George Bush is allowed to take fascism and aggressive imperialism to the point that HItler did, my hope is that the well meaning nations of Earth will not placate him, but will rise up in defense of humanity and civilization.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)


    Your hatred for G.W. Bush is consuming your intellect. It goes beyond hyperbole to compare President Bush and Adolf Hitler.

    If George Bush is allowed to take fascism and aggressive imperialism to the point that HItler did... George Bush hasn't built any death camps, or dissolved the Congress, or changed the military's salute to Hail George. You undermine your own legitimacy when using such outrageous hyperbole.

    Besides, it's Christmas Eve, how about trying to tone down the vitriol for the holidays

    A more apt comparison would be to F.D.R., but G.W.B. is unlikely to get a third term, or be granted the sweeping wartime latitude the Congress granted F.D.R.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    I note that the NYT has an article today, Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report which also points up the completely targetless search the administration has been casting over the mass communication infrastructure of our own country.

    HO, HO, HO! Merry Christmas from GWB! I hope that keeps the tone light enough for all readers!

    And it gets worse: the administration has colluded with mass communication megacorporations to turn the domestic communications infrastructure into its private spying network:

    "to exploit its technological capabilities, the American government had in the last few years been quietly encouraging the telecommunications industry to increase the amount of international traffic that is routed through American-based switches. . . the N.S.A.'s backdoor access to major telecommunications switches on American soil with the cooperation of major corporations represents a significant expansion of the agency's operational capability" (from the cited article)

    Smells like Fascism.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Ed: to the degree the NSA is trying to prevent the Next Big Terrorist Attack (NBTA), it smells like success, not fascism.

    A notable citation from the NYT article, Calls to and from Afghanistan, for instance, are known to have been of particular interest to the N.S.A. since the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said.

    If the prevention of the NBTA is a desirable objective, would you be willing to allow that phone calls to and from Afghanistan are of greater strategic interest than domestic phone calls? Would you be willing to let the NSA listen in on calls to and from Afghanistan?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    That is how I feel about Shrub when I am calm and complacent. I generally don't write when I'm upset.

    <h2>Hatred is not really accurate, though. Disapproval, dislike, contempt, yes, but not hatred. As far as my intellect, I am not aware of any impairment, but then that's how it is with intellectual impairment, eh?</h2>

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