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December 21, 2005


Saying that Bush was referring only to the Patriot Act is a lot like defending Clinton by arguing that "he meant no vaginal intercourse" -- the stakes, of course, are immensely higher here. Future generations will be incredulous that Clinton was impeached and Bush was not.

"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order," – Bush It is a bungled statement with a clever significant omission – since the U.S. government was not talking about those particular wiretaps then the lack of court orders for those instances of skipping F.I.S.A. for overseas wiretaps do not apply. Since we citizens don’t speak in slippery language full of laywer’s intricacies it cannot be interpreted as anything but misleading considering that Bush had direct knowledge of wiretaps that were taking place without court orders. ‘Any time’ has no other definition than ‘at all times.’ He cannot claim to have been speaking only of the Patriot Act when he, entered into a general context with the emphatic ‘any time’ to strengthen his assurances.

I think I detect a pattern in these arguments:

1. We don't wiretap without a court order.
2. OK, we do. But its not technically illegal because we notify Congress.
3. OK, it is illegal. But its for a greater good.

1. We don't condone torture. Torturers are just the "bad apples".
2. OK, we do condone torture in some cases. But our "extraordinary interrogation methods" are always legal.
3. OK, they're not always legal. But it's the right thing to do to keep the US safe.

1. Saddam has WMDs.
2. OK, he doesn't. But we didn't technically lie - we just had bad intelligence.
3. OK, we may have stretched the truth on several well-documented occasions. But isn't it great that Saddam is gone?

1. Saddam is tight with the terrorists.
2. OK, he's not. #*%&*% intelligence!
3. OK, there was no intelligence linking Saddam to 9/11 - a link we suggested many, many times. But isn't it great that Saddam is gone?

In all of these, argument #3 gives the nod of approval to criminal and/or unethical behavior that was vehemently denied in arguments #1 and #2. It's a strange, strange world this people live in.

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