Mr. Bush's strong defense of the N.S.A. program, which he authorized in 2002 to allow some domestic eavesdropping without court warrants, came as a leading Democratic lawmaker called on the administration to make available current and former high-level officials to explain the evolution of the secret program.
Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has already pledged to make hearings into the program one of his highest priorities.
In a letter to Mr. Specter on Sunday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who is also on the committee, said the panel should also explore "significant concern about the legality of the program even at the very highest levels of the Department of Justice."
The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Bush Defends Spy Program and Denies Misleading Public" in this morning's New York Times. Bully Boy's trying to Operation Happy Talk spying on American citizens without a court warrant. Bully Boy's dismissing his 2004 claim that there was no spying without a court order by claiming now that he was speaking of roving wiretaps. (In the statement in the Times, he's quoted, from 2004, saying "wiretaps" twice. Not once does he say "roving wiretaps.") Do you really think Bully Boy grasps what a roving wiretap is? (Me neither.) This is at odds with Scotty's earlier claim that Bully Boy's remarks were inconsistent because he was speaking of the Patriot Act. Get on the same page! Is Karl Rove so frazzled by the Fitzgerald investigation that he's lost his ability to master spin? Or is Bully Boy spending too much time with his new male nanny who knows he can uplift the nation into war lust?
Regardless, Bully Boy's also claiming the spying was "limited." From Lichtblau's article:
This assertion was at odds with press accounts and public statements of his senior aides, who have said the authorization for the program required one end of a communication - either incoming or outgoing - to be outside the United States. The White House, clarifying the president's remarks after his appearance, said later that either end of the communication could in fact be outside the United States.
[. . .]
Officials also say that the N.S.A., beyond eavesdropping on up to 500 phone numbers and e-mail addresses at any one time, has conducted much larger data-mining operations on vast volumes of communication within the United States to identify possible terror suspects. To accomplish this, the agency has reached agreements with major American telecommunications companies to gain access to some of the country's biggest "switches" carrying phone and e-mail traffic into and out of the country.
On the topic of spying, Mia notes Joan Chittister's "Monica, We Need You Now" (National Catholic Reporter via Common Dreams):
At this Christmas party everyone -- whoever they were, wherever they were from -- began talking about the latest breaking news story on the latest White House scandal. Surprisingly enough, though, the overall tone of the conversation, unlike most political discussion in mixed company these days, was not argumentative. Instead, the general response was a kind of quiet dismay. Faulty intelligence, misinterpreted intelligence -- exaggerated, insufficient, decades-old intelligence -- was one thing. Spying on the American public in sweeping, unspecified, unmonitored fishing expeditions, however, was entirely another.
One woman put it this way: "Where is Monica Lewinsky when we need her?" Nobody laughed. The comment made the point: There are scandals and then there are scandals.
It's one kind of scandal when a president cannot control a need for sexual satisfaction. What the moral theologians have traditionally called "the sins of the flesh" -- as in "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" -- most often carries an overtone of human weakness, a lack of personal discipline or emotional maturity or psychological control of sexual impulses.
It's another kind of scandal when a president cannot control a need for power. Deceit, spuriousness, pride and calculated dishonesty fall into the category of "sins of the spirit." These are not confined to private or personal sexual behaviors. "Sins of the spirit" have to do with intellectual malice, with the cultivation of behavior and attitudes that attack the very ideals of the human community and pollute a whole way of being alive.
Remember that today on Democracy Now! is part two of 2005 review.
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