Category: Politics

Cheney story bungled

Judging from a White House press conference I just watched, Washington reporters are as puzzled as I am about the Cheney hunting accident and how the story was handled by officials.

The vice president of the United States shoots someone on Saturday (albeit accidentally) and the news doesn’t get out till Sunday? I find that peculiar. Even more peculiar is that the president himself did not learn until Sunday that the shooter was Cheney.

Reporters at a White House press conference this morning hammered Scott McClellan with questions about it, but for the most part he seemed evasive, often referring questions to Cheney’s staff.

Cheney’s staff, of course, had made the decision Saturday to have or let a private citizen report the incident. Which she did. The next day. True, she was at the scene when the accident happened, and she was the owner of the ranch where it happened. But still, a private citizen? Not someone on Cheney’s staff? Not someone in the White House?

McClellan’s only explanation was that a.) the woman was an eye witness and b.) Cheney staffers [all of them?] were busy seeing to the care of the unfortunate victim. Pressed for details, McClellan referred reporters back to Cheney’s office. Why all the runaround? What’s going on here? Why not just a routine, official press release Saturday to explain what happened?

Whether this is merely bungling on someone’s part, or an attempted coverup of some kind, it smacks of more ineptitude at the highest levels. And there has been more than enough of that in recent months.

Gestapo tactics illegal in America

In the wake of 9/11, President Bush ordered the secret wiretapping of American citizens without obtaining the legally mandated court orders. Remarkably, brazenly, he has even admitted it, citing his sworn duty to protect us. Apparently he has some notion that as president of the United States, he is not bound by the same law as the rest of us.

Scary stuff. Who protects us from Bush? Isn’t he sworn to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States”? Where in his oath of office did it say he is empowered to subvert and ignore the law?

With a man like Bush in charge, who needs gestapo?

Sun sets on Patriot Act

The U.S. Senate voted today not to extend the Patriot Act beyond the end of the year, when its sunset provisions kick in.

The act has been controversial since its inception soon after 9/11. Its provisions were designed to give law enforcement and investigative agencies more power to gather information on Americans suspected of having terrorist ties. Opponents have protested that the law was too intrusive and violated Americans’ right to privacy.

For a while I believed, with reservations, that the law was probably necessary to protect us from the enemy within our borders. However, it has become increasingly clear that when the law violates anyone’s rights, it violates us all. Compromising our freedoms in any way pushes us that much closer to being like the enemy.

I find in the situation some parallels with the (now former) U.S. position on torture. And I feel the same about both. We must not yield the moral high ground in our efforts to fight terrorism, or the terrorists will have succeeded in their goal of bringing down our way of life. They won’t need to attack us if we destroy ourselves from within.