Wednesday, October 17, 2007

9/11 Proved "Highly Convenient" For Bush's Plans To Expand Presidential Powers And Increase Spying On Americans

It's now becoming clear that the Bush administration had been planning to expand government spying on American citizens and to dramatically rewrite the powers of the president more than seven months before the events of 9/11.

Since the 9/11 attacks, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and a long line of White House officials have repeatedly claimed that 9/11 "changed everything" when it came to expanding surveillance authority on innocent Americans, and the need for the president to be granted sweeping powers unknown to any American president since the days of World War 2.

The disturbing fact is that the Bush administration began to unroll their plans to expand domestic surveillance and to rewrite the rule book for what the president can do, without the permission of Congress, within weeks of taking office in early 2001.

Constitutional scholar, professor Jonathan Turley refers to the events of 9/11 as being "highly convenient" for the Bush adminstration.

"This administration was seeking a massive expansion of presidential power and national security powers before 9/11. 9/11 was highly convenient in that case," he said on the Keith Olbermann show, Countdown.

"I'm not saying that they welcomed it, but when it happened, it was a great opportunity to seize powers that they have long wanted at the FBI."

From Raw Story :

Earlier in the program, Olbermann invoked recent reports that the Pentagon used the FBI to issue secret national security letters allowing access to reams of data on Americans with even slim connections to the military.

"Does that essentially mean that I or you dial a wrong number and it happens to belong to somebody that's under investigation, the pentagon can go and get your information or my information as well?" Olbermann asked.

"They can. And you can thank the U.S. congress for that," Turley said, noting that the Patriot Act made it very easy for the FBI to issue the letters. "And what is astonishing is that the abuses of the NSLs are well documented. As soon as the FBI got this power that they were promising to use in the most judicious and cautious way, they abused it with abandon."

Toward the end of the segment, Turley noted the disconnect between the drive for expanded power, and the FBI and National Security Agency's inability to properly analyze intelligence before Sept. 11.

"The great irony, of course, with the NSA and the FBI is that their blunders help contribute to 9/11," he said, "but they radically expanded those powers as a result of that tragedy."

Increased surveillance of American citizens, a doubling of the defence budget, 'soft dictator' powers being granted to the president, a War On Iraq, the Patriot Act, the expansion of US military bases in the Middle East - all in the hopper for the Bush administration by early 2001.

9/11 provided the national shock they needed to get all these plans through, virtually unopposed.

"Highly convenient" is putting it mildly.

Let's not forget that President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney all said that 9/11 provided an "opportunity" or an "enormous opportunity" in the weeks after the tragedy.