Remember when we thought torture and warrantless wiretapping were the whole damned iceberg that was going to sink the Bush presidency? What if they were just the tip of the iceberg? Please go read this piece. Note the tame headline, the friday release (one of the days chosen to bury news), and particularly, in the Charlotte Observer, the fact that it has no prime placement on the politics page or the front page.
The Bush White House pulled in a great quantity of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, the IGs reported. They questioned the legal basis for the effort but shielded almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.
On the subject of oversight, the report particularly criticizes John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general who wrote legal memos defending the policy. His boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, was not aware until March 2004 of the exact nature of the intelligence operations beyond wiretapping that he had been approving for the previous two and a half years, the report says.
I'm wondering what else we don't know. I'm certain that one reason - if not the reason - we didn't impeach George W. Bush is that certain members of Congress and the Obama administration were afraid of the secrets still being kept.
The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to "unprecedented collection activities" by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the IGs pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be "carefully monitored."
This leads to the question, what is so secret? They're listening in on our phones, checking our library and medical records, reading through our online purchases, our emails, rifling through our credit card receipts and digging through our garbage. What else is left? Did they send undercover agents into our churches? Are they teaching in our schools and universities? Are they pretending to be students, neighbors and friends? Do we all have hidden cameras in our homes, churches and schools? Honestly, what could be worse than torture? Once that cat was out of the bag, the rest should seem tame.
Finally, according to the report, little to no information on terrorist plots has been gleaned from whatever it is our government is doing. Since terrorism was the justification for whatever it is our government is doing doesn't this mean these "collection techniques" should end?