Saturday, December 17, 2005

One more thought on the Peeping Tom in Chief

Bush acknowledges…:

Defending the program, Bush said in his address that it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al- Qaida or related terrorist organizations.
Of course, once upon a time, the President claimed that there was a clear link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, a link which the best intelligence shows did not exist.

A clear link

But you'll recall:

The president answered [questions about that absent link]: "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda."

Bush reiterated that the administration never said that "the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," he said.
The bogus basis for the war is now the bogus basis for spying on American citizens. This is why it isn't enough to talk about what happens next in Iraq. We need to know how we got into Iraq so that the same lies aren't used against domestic critics.

The major source of the claim made his admissions under torture and the threat of torture, and have now been comprehensively debunked. The 9/11 commission said "Bin Ladin had … been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan." An agreement was reached to end those activities. Later, "Bin Ladin himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995. Bin Ladin is said to have asked for space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but there is no evidence that Iraq responded to this request."

Nor did the Senate Intelligence committee find any credible links between the two. To quote part of the SSCI's report:

The [CIA] reasonably assessed that there were likely several instances of contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida throughout the 1990s, but that these contacts did not add up to an established formal relationship.

The [CIA]'s assessment that to date there was no evidence proving Iraqi complicity or assistance in an al-Qaida attack was reasonable and objective. No additional information has emerged to suggest otherwise.
The section on signals intelligence is entirely redacted, so we can't know what role the illegal taps on Americans might have had in promoting bogus claims.

We have courts and warrants and protections against unreasonable search and seizure because we aren't supposed to have to trust the instincts of our leaders, that's why we have warrants and courts and checks and balances, and why the President can't override an executive order by fiat.