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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Parsing Bush's Words on the NSA Scandal | The Progressive

Bush’s statement on Thursday about the burgeoning NSA spying scandal was a classic dodge.
He barely had gotten to the microphone when he whipped out the tattered old 9/11 card.
Forget about good morning, hello, or even my fellow Americans. No time for that: Make way for fear. Three of Bush’s first four words were “September the 11th.”
He said he had vowed to do “everything within the law” to protect us, and “as part of this effort,” he authorized NSA spying on Al Qaeda calls in and out of the United States.
Of course, tapping phones of citizens here in the United States without a warrant is not “within the law,” but Bush asserted that it was, as if saying so made it so.
Then, referring to the latest revelation of massive data gathering by the phone companies and the NSA, Bush said, “the government does not listen to domestic calls.”
The key fudge word here is “listen.” Administration officials say that the NSA isn’t listening in on the content; it’s just gathering data.
Bush didn’t cop to that, though. He said, ”we’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans.”
But they are gathering data on millions of Americans. Isn’t that mining and trolling?
Maybe Bush knows there is another stage of snooping that his Administration is involved in after the collecting of the phone data. And maybe, as Robert Parry suggests, the Bush Administration is trolling through the personal lives not of millions but hundreds of thousands of American lives.
And note that Bush used the term “innocent” Americans.
He wants us to believe that there are two groups of Americans: innocent Americans and suspect Americans.
At the end of his brief statement, Bush had the chutzpah to say, “The privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.”
This is a fiercely bad joke, but again I draw your attention to the word “ordinary.”
Once again, Bush is dividing citizens into two camps: ordinary Americans, and everybody else.
In a desperate ploy to save his Presidency, he’s setting the stage for generalized suspicion and mass hysteria.


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