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Commentary :: Politics
2006 is a Crucial Year
05 Jan 2006
Modified: 02:15:14 AM
A change in control of the House could lead to real investigations into Bush criminality, and maybe even to impeachment hearings.
Okay, Now Even I'm Worried

According to a report in last Sunday's New York Times,, the White House found itself unable to continue with its warrantless NSA domestic spying campaign in early 2004 because James B. Comey, acting attorney general while John Ashcroft was hospitalized with a painfully inflamed gall bladder, would not approve it.

Seems the White House had set up a system where the president could authorize the spying without notifying the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but for form's sake he still was supposed to get the okay from his own Justice Department. But what the White House wanted the National Security Agency to do apparently worried so Comey--no hero of civil liberties--that he wouldn't sign on.

This led the president and his spymasters to turn to Ashcroft himself. Reportedly White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then White House counsel (and now Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales, went to the hospital where Ashcroft was awaiting an operation, and asked him to give the needed approval.

Pretty scary right?

But it gets worse!

According to the Times, even Ashcroft--the man who pushed through the USA PATRIOT Act and who tried, with a mad scheme called Operation TIPS, to turn 20 million Americans into volunteer spies on their neighbors-- was "reluctant" to sign on to what the White House and the NSA were doing.

So just what were they doing?

I think it's safe to say that they were probably not just tapping phones and emails of suspected terrorists. That would surely not have bothered Comey or Ashcroft.

I had earlier assumed that much of the NSA spying that Bush was approving illegally was on anti-war activists.

But think about it: why would that bother Ashcroft? He on several occasions equated anti-war activists with terrorists himself, so surely this kind of spying wouldn't have been hard for him to sign onto.

No, it had to be something so obviously and patently unconstitutional and criminal that Ashcroft had visions of himself following Nixon's AG, John Mitchell, into the slammer when it finally got exposed.

And what might that spying be?

My guess is that it has to do with the 2004 election, and dirty tricks aimed at the Democrats.

Who knows? If we want to get really paranoid about it, we might wonder just what the massive computer arrays in the hands of the NSA are capable of--for example, could they be used not just to monitor but to remotely manipulate the vote totals of electronic voting machines?

So get ready. Either this stinking swamp of deception and criminality is about to be dragged into the sunlight and exposed, or we are heading into a very dark time.

This makes 2006 a crucial year for freedom in America. The burgeoning Abramoff scandal, softness in the economy and a bloody quagmire in Iraq make the idea of a returned Democratic majority in the House this November seem much more of a possibility. If the campaign for Congress includes many voices calling for impeachment, and if candidates who talk positively about impeachment win their races, we could—barring serious election fraud on a massive scale--see a House Judiciary panel, headed by Rep. John Conyers, taking up consideration of impeachment bills by January 2007.

Say what you will about the spinelessness and pro-corporate ideology of the Democrats, the dynamics of the two-party patronage system will nonetheless encourage a new Democratic House, armed with subpoena power, to try to dismantle the Republican machine, beginning with the Bush White House.

That is a scenario to be profoundly hoped for.

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to:
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