Thursday, May 18, 2006



Richard Nixon
John Mitchell
J. Edgar Hoover

I took a bit of an informal and very unscientific poll yesterday. It seems that virtually everybody at work who is over the age of 50 is aghast at the NSA phone call monitoring program. However, a large majority of those under 50 either approved or didn't care. I had to think for a minute why the big difference pre and post 50. Then it dawned on me. Age 50 is about the cut off age between those who remember Richard Nixon, and those who don't.

Early in his presidency, Richard Nixon approached FBI director J. Edgar Hoover with a scheme to set up surveillance on his political adversaries and Viet Nam war opponents. Hoover (who we later learned had a long history of tapping the phones of politicians and civil rights leaders and using the information to discredit or blackmail them), refused to go along unless the Attorney General signed off on the program. Not because he objected, but because he wanted cover in case the program was found out. Not only did AG John Mitchell give the program the green light on the basis of national security, but became intimately involved in the program. As a result, the FBI and NSA tapped and monitored the phones of over 1700 political groups (mostly groups whose only crime was to be active in the civil rights or anti war movements) and their members. The information gleaned was used in a number of ways.

The FBI would raid and disrupt meetings. They would plant "agitators" at rallies and bring in opposing groups, hoping that the violence fomented would reflect badly on the protesters. Busting protest leaders on minor drug offenses became a staple in the justice department's attempts to decapitate protest groups.

Then came Watergate. In the ensuing investigation, the activities of Nixon, Mitchell, and Hoover were brought to light, and the FBI, NSA, and CIA were placed under much greater congressional scrutiny. But after 9/11 and the "war on terror," much of this scrutiny was relaxed, and intelligence agencies given the benefit of the doubt.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that George W. Bush is somehow less nefarious and paranoid than Nixon. I would argue the facts point to just the contrary. And even Nixon never declared that only he had the power to decide which laws he had to follow and which he didn't.

A Justice Dept. probe of the NSA monitoring program has been thwarted on national security grounds. Congress should demand the administration immediately grant full access to Justice. And if Bush refuses, he should be impeached.

Those of us who lived through Nixon remember life under a rogue president. We wish not to have to live through the excesses of another. Thus our repulsion at the NSA story. Incidentally, public attitudes on this story have turned, withover 51% now disapproving of the program.

I am in the "under 50" age group and I don't agree with the phone tapping. However, the only action I've seen taken against this tapping is a huge class action lawsuit against Verizon (and probably other carriers) on behalf of the privacy of their customers. Well, this seems to me like just a little slap, and also, just a way to help lawyers profit. I already hate lawyers, but what other way is there to stop the phone tapping? I think a lot of people are apathetic are this way because of a lack of knowledge about what can be done about it that would actually be effective.
I'm under-50 and I think that this government might as well be Big Brother. It's unbelievable to me that anyone would welcome such an intrusion.

But then I'm a political junkie nerd and have read about 20 books on Watergate. Woodward and Bernstein used to be my heroes until Woodward turned into such a fucking tool.
It does scare me. And angers me. I've managed to brush off every kind of doomsaying and paranoia (Y2K, New World Order theories, VeriChips, etc.), but this is just horrifying. And Woodward IS a tool now. Sigh.
Notta, my son asked me just yesterday if I was evil. !!! I said no and asked him why he would think such a thing. He said he heard somebody at school say all lawyers are the Devil's spawn. Ouch! Honestly, we're not all evil, wealthy, corrupt, or arrogant . . . well, okay, we're second only to surgeons when it comes to arrogance, I will give you that. ;-)

GWB, I'm in the under 50 crowd, and like dbackdad, am a political junkie. I was in to politics even when I started voting at 18 all those long years ago. *sigh* Anyway, I'm pissed at just about everything this Administration and its Dick-tator have managed to get away with under the guise of "national security." We need a guillotine! Start the Revolution!!
I'm right behind VV: Let's start the Revolution!

I think the mentality of so many people is: "I don't care because I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO HIDE."

But we should care, not because we may or may not have something to hide, but because this is UnConstitutional. It goes against everything our fore fathers intended for this country.
I think a big part of the problem here is that people are confusing seperate issues. Yes, the NSA did get calling records from several "private" phone service providers. Not Technically Illegal underhanded and quite possibly in breach of contract depending on the provider, but technically, not illegal.

The second issue at hand here is that President Bush ordered the NSA to tap the phones of specific individuals, without the NSA giving him probable cause, and without a court ordered search warrant. Under the wire tapping laws, that action is Illegal (no matter what that dunderhead Hayden says.)

Oh yeah, and Bob Woodward is a fucking tool!
VV - I apologize, I should not make such generalizations. I just have not had very good experiences with lawyers and I work in a school district. It's no wonder I think they're the debil. :-P
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