THE PRESIDENT FROM WONDERLAND

5 04 2006

OK, let me try and get this straight. Mr. Bush has been saying for years that if the government wants to eavesdrop on people, all they have to do is go to a FISA court and get a warrant—and they can even do that after they start bugging someone’s phone, if it’s really dire. And getting a warrant from a FISA court is about like getting a marriage license—they just about don’t turn you down.

And Mr. Bush and his junta (or is it Mr. Cheney and his junta?) have spent a lot of time and energy and, yes “political capital,” as they say, pushing for expansion of the Patriot Act, saying they need the tools it will give them to capture terrorists.

But, when it emerged that our government has been engaging in warrantless wiretapping and, Mr. Gonzalez hints, many other things too secret to mention, we were informed that Mr. Bush, as commander-in-chief of a nation at war, has unlimited power and does not need to abide by any law that impedes his relentless search for terrorists. S

OK, so why all the earlier references to “due process of law”? And why all the energy spent pushing to enlarge what is legally permissible under the Patriot Act? That bill, I tell you—it’s enough to give patriotism a bad name. Well, I think I have an idea why—but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Now Scooter Libby alleges that Mr. Bush, or perhaps Mr. Cheney, with the blessing of Mr. Bush—authorized him to tell reveal classified information to several several reporters, thereby declassifying it . It apparently follows that since Mr. Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, can violate the law with impunity, then Mr. Libby—viola! –is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Bush said, on numerous occasions, that he didn’t know who in the administration was leaking information, but that whoever had done so would be fired at the very least. Somehow, I don’t think he’s about to fire himself.

During the 2004 campaign, the Bush camp characterized John Kerry as a “flip-flopper” because Mr. Kerry is intellectually honest enough to change his mind when he gets new information, as well as politically sophisticated enough to understand that he isn’t always going to get everything he wants. I disagree with him about many things, but I believe he is fundamentally an honest man.

Mr. Bush’s flip-flops, however, are either dishonest or schizophrenic. To go from “we need warrants and legally expanded powers” to “we don’t need no bleeping warrants and we can do anything we want,” to go from “I don’t know who leaked this information but the leaker will be fired” to “I am the leaker and I say it was OK for me to do it”–these are nonsequiturs worthy of Alice in Wonderland. But this is not Wonderland, this is the United States of America, and Mr. Bush’s conduct has destroyed American credibility, betrayed our intelligence officers, and cost thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis their lives.

His rhetoric of patriotism does not excuse these actions.. A true patriot would not trample the Constitution. A true patriot would not endanger the lives of clandestine Central Intelligence Agency operatives for partisan political purposes. (I don’t like the CIA, but I’m a nonviolent pacifist, dammit—I don’t want anybody to get hurt!). A true patriot would not put our precious younger generation—our armed forces—in harm’s way on the basis of evidence he evidently knew was phony.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the entire Republican leadership are guilty of treason, and only their steely, calculated grip on the reins of power—and the timidity of the Democrats—is keeping them from being frogmarched into court. I said earlier that I think I know why Bush lied about his illegal activities up until recently, and here’s my opinion: he was waiting until he felt like he had the Supreme Court stacked in his favor to come out with the truth. Thank you, Democrats, for letting Mussalito and Bob Roberts (remember that movie?) determine the fate of our nation. A special place in hell is waiting for you if you don’t get some spine, real soon.

And Bush and Cheney, Condi and Rummy? I suspect they’ll be reincarnating as tube worms on the edge of some volcanic vent in the deep, dark Pacific for some time to come…but I digress.

I am deeply concerned. If the Republicans can keep the Democrats from taking back the House and Senate this year—and there are enough fools and thieves in this country to make that a possibility—Mr. Bush will have two more years to do damage. Even if the Democrats regain power over the legislative branch of our government, and are not too timid to raise hell, Mr. Bush will still have most of a couple of years before the slow wheels of justice catch up with him. I am concerned that we may wake up one morning to find that our military, tired of being shredded for no good reason, has surrounded the White House and the Capitol and asked for some resignations. That would not be a good way to break this logjam, but if we don’t turn things around fast, it could be our future. And America would never be the same again.

music: Steve Earle, “Jerusalem

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