Friday, February 10, 2006

Playing Politics With National Security

Instead of treating national security issues with all the due seriousness to protect the lives of American citizens, the Bush Administration has decided that cheapening the issue for political purposes by bringing out some details of failed planning for a 2002 incident involving the use of a shoe bomb to breach the cabin of a passenger jetliner and then crash it into the tallest building in Los Angeles was disclosed.

At the time the possible planning was discovered was the proper time to inform both airport security as well as city officials in Los Angeles to strengthen security to prevent any possible terrorist attempt. Instead waiting four years to disclose these possible plans, which may not have progressed much beyond mere talk or discussion was blown into a major White House political propaganda effort. Law enforcement, city officials, airport security should have all been part of any attempts to prevent terrorist attacks and to foil them. But it serves no purpose whatsoever to bring out old news like this when it had no connection whatsoever to the current wiretapping discussion and the information was garnered from what was called "aggressive questioning" of a terrorist suspect that was captured overseas.

There was nothing in this story that seems to relate to bolstering the Bush Administration arguments to give way to wholesale wiretapping rights they claim are needed to protect Americans from harm by terrorists. Even FOX news had disclosed last Sunday that out of hundreds of thousands of phone conversations, Emails, and other monitered media, only 10 possible cases of incidents related to terrorism may have been found. For casting such a wide net, that's very little benefit. Although some wiretapping to prevent real national security threats should be permitted under some legal and carefully controlled circumstances. Sen. Arlen Spector is proposing a compromise that places wiretapping operations away from the Bush Administration and strictly in the hands of independent national security oriented forces. This sounds like a positive change, especially since the Bush White House seems more and more intent on using and abusing national security issues for purely political purposes.

Only in the area of national security issues does the Bush Administration have positive poll numbers. On all other issues including economics, the Bush Administration figures are very weak. But "crying wolf" on national security issues solely for political gain to bolster the 2006 election hopes of Republican candiadtes is merely a pathetic bit of cheap political gimmickery. National security issues and the balance of civil liberties are far too serious for such petty political silliness and cheapening.


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