Monday, May 15, 2006

Whistleblowers, Hayden, and Bush

This week, NSA whistleblower Russell Tice will tell the Senate Armed Services Committee:

...the NSA conducted illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of U.S. citizens while he was there with the knowledge of Hayden. … “I think the people I talk to next week are going to be shocked when I tell them what I have to tell them. It’s pretty hard to believe,” Tice said. “I hope that they’ll clean up the abuses and have some oversight into these programs, which doesn’t exist right now.” …
Tice said his information is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program that Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts this week that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. “It’s an angle that you haven’t heard about yet,” he said. … He would not discuss with a reporter the details of his allegations, saying doing so would compromise classified information and put him at risk of going to jail. He said he “will not confirm or deny” if his allegations involve the illegal use of space systems and satellites.
Maybe Russell will testify to illegal spying on, say, political opponents, a prosecutor or two, or innocent Americans such as vegans, animal rights advocates, labor leaders, and antiwar protesters. Hopefully, Tice can provide us with hard evidence on why Bush's nominee, former head of the NSA, Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, should run the CIA. What makes Hayden qualified and how many terrorist attempts has he stopped?

What was Hayden doing on 9/11?

Frank Rich explained on Sunday how Hayden protected our nation on the eve of 9/11:
It was under General Hayden, a self-styled electronic surveillance whiz, that the N.S.A. intercepted actual Qaeda messages on Sept. 10, 2001 — "Tomorrow is zero hour" for one — and failed to translate them until Sept. 12. That same fateful summer, General Hayden's N.S.A. also failed to recognize that "some of the terrorists had set up shop literally under its nose," as the national-security authority James Bamford wrote in The Washington Post in 2002. The Qaeda cell that hijacked American Flight 77 and plowed into the Pentagon was based in the same town, Laurel, Md., as the N.S.A., and "for months, the terrorists and the N.S.A. employees exercised in some of the same local health clubs and shopped in the same grocery stores."
I know, I know. The GOP faithful will indignantly retort... but, but, there have been. No Terrorist. Attacks. On. American. Soil. Since. 9/11! Yes, dear hearts, poor wittle Bushbots miss the point that maybe there would have been. No. 9/11. If. Bush had taken the "bin Laden cell in New York" and "preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks" written about in the Aug. 6, 2001, PDB, Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S., seriously. Had Bush fulfilled his duties as Commander-in-Chief with as much passion as his compulsion to clear brush on his ranch and exerted leadership over men whose "hair was on fire," men like Gen. Hayden and women like Condi Rice, prodding them to shake the trees and make 'em shed terrorists like falling fruit, maybe Bush would have succeeded in averting the 9/11 attacks:
“If we had had that kind of process in the summer of 2001 that we had in December '99, where the national security adviser was every day in the White House asking the FBI director and the attorney general and the secretary of defense, ‘Go back to your building, find out all that you can’ ... maybe the information that was in the FBI would have shaken loose.”
“We had Iraqi-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used military force, and they stopped. We had Iranian-sponsored terrorism against the United States; he used covert action against them, and they stopped,” Clarke told Russert.
“We had al-Qaida attempts to blow up things in the United States during the millennium period, attempts to blow up embassies around the world, attempts to take over Bosnia during the jihad in Bosnia. And all of those attempts were thwarted.”
“Now, that doesn't mean that he did everything he should have done, but the president of the United States was active on these issues in the Clinton administration. The president of the United States was not active on these issues prior to 9/11 in the Bush administration,” Clarke said.
Frank Rich sums up Bush's Hayden nomination with an exclamation point:
If Democrats — and, for that matter, Republicans — let a president with a Nixonesque approval rating install yet another second-rate sycophant at yet another security agency, even one as diminished as the C.I.A., someone should charge those senators with treason, too.
Hear, hear. (h/t to Tristero)