S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday's Bush Day

Reading the news about our current president (OCP) is almost always a downer for me. There is a part of me that would rather just ignore him. It is that "magical thinking" immature part that believes ignoring will make his power less pervasive in my life.
Repeated revelations in the news of abuse of power is always unsettling. News about how vulnerable American citizens' civil liberties have become under the administration of OCP should be disquieting to all of us who care anything about our freedom and our country.
Look at some of today's little gems on national intelligence from just one news site, the current Washington Post:

  • "Senators Question CIA Nominee on Torture," by Karen DeYoung (6/20/07). To quote,
    Senators used the rare open hearing of the Select Committee on Intelligence, held to consider Rizzo's confirmation as CIA general counsel, as an opportunity to air concerns about the long-secret CIA detention and interrogation program.

    [Senator] . . . Rockefeller's follow-up, asking about how the president will interpret the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions in relation to CIA activities, elicited the longest response of the day. "Okay," Rizzo said, launching an explanation of the difference between "grave" and "non-grave" offenses under the conventions.

    [Senator] . . . Levin later asked for the record to reflect "a statement of the president in December 2005 that we do not render to countries that torture, a statement made in public . . . in contrast to Mr. Rizzo's statement that he could not answer that question in public."

  • "Ashcroft Tells of Surveillance Disputes," by Paul Kane (6/22/07). To quote,

    Former attorney general John D. Ashcroft told the House intelligence committee yesterday about disputes in the Bush administration over aspects of its domestic surveillance program, which peaked in the March 2004 visit to his hospital bedside by White House officials seeking his change of heart.

    House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) said the two-hour closed-door hearing covered Ashcroft's "whole tenure as attorney general." The hearing, Reyes said, examined how the administration viewed the use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions requiring a special court to issue warrants for domestic eavesdropping.
Be careful what you wish for - Today is not Friday the 13th, but the 22nd, so it is not superstition that is causing my disquiet. In addition to the news, I learned a few days ago that (on Jun 18 2007 5:41:29 pm) a web search was done by the Army Information Systems Command at the Pentagon on the words "stuart bowen iraq." The URL of my South by Southwest IG blog post came up Number One in that Google search, and they clicked on it. I hope I did not say anything that could bring on the black vans.
Keeping courage and regaining optimism in the presence of such awareness is an every day challenge. I remind myself that Mr. Bush's power to influence is diminishing; his poll numbers are at an all-time low, according to a recent MSNBC/Newsweek study. What power remains, however, is the reservoir of election-bestowed authority that only the passage of a year and some months of time will remove.
Mixed blessings - The following two items must go under the heading of "good news/bad news." One is an essay on political optimism, something I am lacking; the other is a long awaited CIA declassification. Links and quotes follow:
  • Good for Hayden - "CIA to Air Decades of Its Dirty Laundry," by Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus (6/22/07). To quote,

    The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency's worst illegal abuses -- the so-called "family jewels" documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups from the 1950s to the 1970s, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday.

    The documents, to be publicly released next week, also include accounts of break-ins and theft, the agency's opening of private mail to and from China and the Soviet Union, wiretaps and surveillance of journalists, and a series of "unwitting" tests on U.S. civilians, including the use of drugs.

    "Most of it is unflattering, but it is CIA's history," Hayden said in a speech to a conference of foreign policy historians. The documents have been sought for decades by historians, journalists and conspiracy theorists and have been the subject of many fruitless Freedom of Information Act requests.

  • Music to my eyes - (6/20/07)"Reclaiming the mantle of optimism," by Bernard L Schwartz, investor and a trustee at the Third Way. Quoting from his persuasive arguments,

    With the sole exception of President Bill Clinton, whose "bridge to the 21st century" evoked the vision and optimism of other great Democratic presidents of the 20th century, such as FDR and John F. Kennedy, pessimism about America's economic future has been the hallmark of modern progressivism.

    The 2008 Democratic presidential candidates would be wise to note that unwarranted negativism is dangerous and badly underestimates the strengths of the American people to adapt to and prosper with change.

    As America turns its eyes toward electing the next president, Democrats need to reclaim their heritage as the party of investment and optimism. By doing so, they will shed the label of "tax and spend" and replace it with "invest and grow." This is good policy and good politics.

Reclaiming my time, Mr. President - The rest of Friday is mine! And so is my weekend, and maybe even next week.
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