olio

"How long do you have to get hit in the head before you start asking who's hitting you in the head?"

Friday, April 07, 2006

Survival of the Specious

Hooray for Harry Taylor, the man who told Bush that he had “never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened by, my leadership in Washington, including the presidency, by the Senate.”

I read the transcript of Bush’s speech this morning, and this part, just before Taylor speaks, really gives me the creeps:

Okay, squeaky wheels. There's three of you up there. Is this like a chorus?

How did Bush know Taylor et al. were “squeaky wheels”? Gee—if this man’s phone wasn’t tapped before, I’ll bet it is now!

Bush then gives a classic extemporaneous reply:

“I'm going to start off with what you first said, if you don't mind, you said that I tap your phones -- I think that's what you said. You tapped your phone -- I tapped your phones. Yes. No, that's right. Yes, no, let me finish.”

And proves that he is still king of the specious argument:

“And there -- out of this national -- NSA came the recommendation that it would make sense for us to listen to a call outside the country, inside the country from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda in order to have real-time information from which to possibly prevent an attack. I thought that made sense, so long as it was constitutional. Now, you may not agree with the constitutional assessment given to me by lawyers -- and we've got plenty of them in Washington -- but they made this assessment that it was constitutional for me to make that decision.

“I then, sir, took that decision to members of the United States Congress from both political parties and briefed them on the decision that was made in order to protect the American people. And so members of both parties, both chambers, were fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country. It seems like -- to make sense, if we're at war, we ought to be using tools necessary within the Constitution, on a very limited basis, a program that's reviewed constantly to protect us.”

Right, Mr. President: specious arguments do seem to make sense—but they don’t really make sense. Bush says tapping calls into or out of the country “from al Qaeda or suspected al Qaeda” is legal, and it is. But the issue he was questioned about—the government’s illegal wiretapping of the domestic calls of law-abiding American citizens—is neatly sidestepped. And his claim that members of Congress were “fully aware of a program intended to know whether or not al Qaeda was calling in or calling out of the country” again speciously implies that the issue is international surveillance of known/suspected terrorists. It also implies that those briefed agreed with his decision, which just isn’t true.

In its coverage of the speech, the WaPo notes that “[t]he president boasted of building democracy and rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq, without mentioning that his administration is scaling back funding for both goals. And he seemed eager to re-litigate the original reasons for the invasion.

“‘I fully understand that the intelligence was wrong, and I'm just as disappointed as everybody else is,’ he said. “But he added: ‘Removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing for world peace and the security of our country.’”

Do you mean this kind of world peace, you “disappointed” jackass?

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