Monday, December 19, 2005

A toothless media

So as part of President Bush's effort to justify his ordering warrantless wiretaps of Americans' phone calls and monitoring of citizens' e-mails, he held a press conference this morning, during which he admittedly sounded more frank and showed more honest candor than I've ever heard. But nevertheless, he dodged questions and worse yet, the White House Press Corps didn't hold him to the fire.

See below:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the domestic spying issue for a moment. According to FISA (The Foreign Intelligence Service Act)'s own records, it's received nearly 19,000 requests for wiretaps or search warrants since 1979, rejected just five of them. It also operates in secret, so security shouldn't be a concern, and it can be applied *retroactively* (emphasis added). Given such a powerful tool of law enforcement is at your disposal, sir, why did you see fit to sidetrack that process? (sidetrack meaning order wiretapping without having to get a warrant first, definition added.)

THE PRESIDENT: We used the process to monitor. But also, this is a different -- a different era, a different war, Stretch (nickname for the reporter who asked the question). So what we're -- people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this is a -- it requires quick action.

And without revealing the operating details of our program, I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you; and, three, we're guarding your civil liberties. And we're guarding the civil liberties by monitoring the program on a regular basis, by having the folks at NSA, the legal team, as well as the inspector general, monitor the program, and we're briefing Congress. This is a part of our effort to protect the American people. The American people expect us to protect them and protect their civil liberties. I'm going to do that. That's my job, and I'm going to continue doing my job.

--MIKE COMMENT: what i don't understand is how the "quick action" is compromised by having to get a warrant after-the-fact, which is what retroactively means. DOES THE PRESIDENT NOT KNOW WHAT THE FUCK RETROACTIVELY MEANS? For fuck's sake. What double kills me here is that this was a great question by the reporter, especially dropping the "retroactively" bomb on the President, but then he gave him a free pass on that!!!!!!

For the complete transcript of the press conference click here.

Another lowlight for me:

Q Thank you, sir. Looking ahead to this time next year, what are the top three or top five -- take your pick -- accomplishments that you hope to have achieved? And in particular, what is your best-case scenario for troop levels in Iraq at this time next year?

THE PRESIDENT: This is kind of like -- this is the ultimate benchmark question. You're trying to not only get me to give benchmarks in Iraq, but also benchmarks domestically.

I hope the world is more peaceful. I hope democracy continues to take root around the world. And I hope people are able to find jobs. The job base of this country is expanding, and we need to keep it that way. We want people working. I want New Orleans and Mississippi to be better places. I appreciate very much the progress that Congress is making toward helping a vision of New Orleans rising up and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi being reconstructed. I think we can make good progress down there. --MIKE COMMENT: what the fuck does that shit mean? Who doesn't want more peace (well, except maybe dick cheney and certain chechen rebels) or democracy or jobs? Wow, those are good answers, Mr President.

One of the key decisions our administration has made is to make sure that the levees are better than they were before Katrina in New Orleans. That will help -- people will have the confidence necessary to make investments and to take risk and to expand.

I appreciate the Congress, and I'm looking forward to the Senate affirming the U.S. Congress' decisions to fund the education or reimburse states for education. There's some good health care initiatives in the bill. We want to make sure that people don't get booted out of housing. We want to work carefully to make sure people understand that there are benefits or help available for them to find housing. We want to continue to move temporary housing on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi so people can get better -- closer to their neighborhoods, and get their homes rebuilt. We want to start helping Mayor Nagin get temporary housing near New Orleans so as this economy comes back people will be able to find jobs.

I appreciate the fact that the Congress passed the GO Zone tax incentives in order to attract capital into the region. --MIKE COMMENT: YAY CORPORATE WELFARE!!!-- So one of my hopes is, is that people are able to find hope and optimism after the Katrina disaster down there, that people's lives get up and running again, that people see a brighter future. I've got a lot of hopes, and I'm looking forward to working with Congress to get those -- to achieve some big goals.

On a better note: Jalama Beach has amazing beach rocks. And The Natural Café in Santa Barbara (but also Westlake Village and one other locale) has amazing food, especially the Portabello Mushroom sandwich.

Happy Day

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