Tutu recalled teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., when Bush won re-election in 2004. "I was shocked," he said, "because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the deja vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here - vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view." Tutu made these comments to me exactly a year ago next week. I haven't seen any reaction from him about the latest eavesdropping revelations, but I doubt he is remotely surprised at the U.S. president's response: a defense of the tactic, together with a warning that the government would launch an investigation to find out who leaked the news to The New York Times.For most of my life, I've been a trusting sort of chap. I really want to be able to give the government the benefit of the doubt when they say they'll spy on us with care.
However, Bush is asking us to trust him. And no one should. This is a man who has called the Constitution of the United States "a goddamned piece of paper." A man who has trashed international treaties and abandoned the Geneva conventions. He has explicitly championed torture. He's given the Pentagon the job of the State Department, and allowed the military to do domestic investigation of civilians.
Some will say that he's really pulling out the stops in an effort to protect America. They would be wrong. What about border control? Our southern border is totally porous. This makes no sense. His foolish attack on Iraq has weakened us militarily and diplomatically, and made terrorism far, far worse. Thanks to Bush, thousands of new terrorists have become trained veterans of urban warfare. The man is thoroughly incompetent, to say the least.
Ask yourself this question. Why does Bush need to illegally spy on Americans without a warrant when there is already a secret court designed to facilitate legitimate national security needs?
The 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is perhaps the most secretive in America, created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). It reviews U.S. government requests for surreptitious eavesdropping to gather intelligence on potential U.S. enemies. Last year, according to a report to Congress, it received 1,758 warrant requests -- and approved all but four.Bush has consistently tried to remove transparency and accountability from government. Here is yet another case where he asks Americans to trust him instead of trusting institutions.
Five years ago, the United States was the leader of the free world. The USA stood for freedom, human rights, technological innovation and liberal democracy. Now, we stand for spying, torture, imprisonment without due process, invasion without due cause, breaking treaties, fundamentalism, and incompetence. What's next? When do you say enough is enough? Is there any outrage that Americans will not tolerate?
Oh yeah. Consensual sex in the oval office.