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May 17, 2006

Rise Up, Fellow
Enemies of the State

by Thomas R. Eddlem

Let's take George W. Bush at his word.

Last week, Bush said of the National Security Agency's telephone data mining program: "Our efforts are focused on links to al-Qaeda and their known affiliates." But USA Today and other news sources had just revealed that the NSA is looking through the phone call logs of as many as 200 million Americans. If he's narrowed his search for al-Qaeda terrorists down to 200 million Americans, then it's time to declare the "war on terror" a loss. We simply can't fight that many terrorist enemies in our midst and win. Bush has met the enemy, as Pogo might have said, and it is all of us.

At this point I would like to declare myself an enemy of the state, but the Bush administration has already saved me – and pretty much everyone else in the country – the trouble.

We're all "al-Qaeda and their known affiliates" now, according to Bush.

Even the loyalty of administration's own Justice Department is suspect. Justice Department lawyers investigating the NSA were denied access to information on the grounds that they didn't have the necessary security clearances.

Who would have thought that our government could be run by a cabal more paranoid than Col. Flagg?

A Reply to the Brainwashed

But many Americans, according to poll numbers, are unconvinced that Bush's program to spy on everyone is a bad thing."Why," they always ask, "do I care if the government has a record of my phone call to my mother? And if you are not doing anything wrong, what's the big deal to you? It doesn't even take any of your time." The brainwashed need to be asked if they are dumb enough to believe they are any safer now that massive government resources are being used to comb through phone calls to their mothers. Of course, I don't want the government snooping through my phone bill for the same damned reason I don't want them walking into my house when I'm out. It's my house, and my phone bill. If government spies were to walk into your home while you were out and snoop around, I stress, they wouldn't take any of your time either. The principle is the same. Of course, we could probably find many Bush groupies would have no problem with even house searches – so long as they are "well-intentioned" – by their so-called "commander in chief." Forget about the Fourth Amendment, they advise.

I would think that my fellow Christian conservatives would shudder to surrender such a power to the president, if for no other reason than because Hillary Clinton could therefore one day wield such power. Not so. I've long known that much of the so-called "Religious Right" is so enamored with Bush to that they believe he is more infallible than the Pope in proclaiming Catholic doctrine when "the decider" uses the federal security apparatus.

What I didn't realize until recently is that they also suffer from the childlike delusion that Republicans will always run the White House.

Democrats are probably going to have to lead this fight. And I don't mean the way John Kerry "led" in 2004 on Iraq – by following the polls and saying we didn't have enough troops in Iraq. Polls indicate that Americans currently support the wiretapping and snooping by a two-to-one margin. But that's also roughly the margin by which Americans supported the war in Iraq three years ago. Democrats, liberals, independents, and principled conservatives – all members of this rebel alliance – need to get ahead of the polls and change public opinion.

It's time for Americans to stand up for the Constitution and point out that Bush has done just about nothing to protect Americans from al-Qaeda terrorism while doing just about everything to attack our freedom. "Americans are asking, why do they hate us," Bush said after Sept. 11, concluding that "They hate our freedoms." Bush now seems dead set upon taking away their reason to hate us.

He hasn't ordered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to inspect cargo at our ports at any greater pace, nor has he secured our national borders (despite Monday's "Operation Poll Saver" speech on immigration to the nation) to screen immigrants for potential terrorists, and he has overturned a Middle Eastern government (Iraq) that was an enemy of al-Qaeda.

Experienced interrogators know that testimony extracted under torture is notoriously unreliable, so naturally the Bush administration pioneered official torture techniques such as "waterboarding" (as well as subcontracting the torture through "extraordinary rendition").

And it's long been recognized that the best investigative work is done by pursuing the most probable leads (thus the Fourth Amendment's clause requiring "probable cause"). Rather than focusing upon the few terrorists across the world, the Bush administration has instead chosen to spy on all Americans by combing through their phone bills, scanning their e-mail, and tapping their phones.

Bush has declared the vast majority of the American people "al-Qaeda and their known affiliates."

Fellow "known al-Qaeda affiliate," it's time to put a stop to this.

Only pressure on Congress can end the federal surveillance state. You are already an enemy of the state, so you have nothing to lose.

Write or call your representative and senators now!

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Thomas R. Eddlem's Bio

Thomas R. Eddlem is a native of the Boston area of Massachusetts and a graduate of Stonehill College. He is a radio talk show host in southeastern Massachusetts and a frequent contributor to The New American magazine.

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