The Bush Administration, with the willing help of its stooges in Congress and the media, are playing the shell game again. In order to distract us from the latest horrific news from Iraq, they parade out one phony traitor or betrayer of American values after another. Orrin Hatch wanted us to believe that a Constitutional amendment to stop those treasonous flag burners was the most important thing that Congress could spend its time on. The President addressed the nation to discuss the trumped up issue of illegal immigration. His solution is to send the National Guard to protect the borders. Of course, 40 of the 50 states need their National Guard units for real crises and have refused to send them for border silliness. As of this week, Bush has been unable to find 1/2 of the necessary troops.
And, of course, there are the usual scapegoats like gay couples who seek marital rights and those defeatist “cut and run” Democrats who hate America and the troops.
Why do they do it? Because it works. The American public becomes mesmerized by the moving shells, the sleight-of-hand fear mongering, that keeps us constantly anxious. We want someone to protect us from evil and we appear to be more than willing to give up our civil rights for that protection.
The latest “traitors” are the press, particularly the New York Times, who made the mistake of informing the American public about the Bank Record/SWIFT program. The Sunday cable news and the right wing bloggers have been heating up the rhetoric daily. The idiocy peaked when the House Republican leaders introduced a resolution condemning The New York Times for publishing the story.
What we found under one shell this morning was another Bush lie. At his press briefing last Monday the following exchange took place:
Q Sir, several news organizations have reported about a program that allows the administration to look into the bank records of certain suspected terrorists. My questions are twofold: One, why have you not gone to Congress to ask for authorization for this program, five years after it started? And two, with respect, if neither the courts, nor the legislature is allowed to know about these programs, how can you feel confident the checks and balances system works?
THE PRESIDENT: Congress was briefed. And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We’re at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America. What we were doing was the right thing. Congress was aware of it, and we were within the law to do so.
The administration is required by law to inform all members of the intelligence committee on all intelligence programs. Yet, Sen. Diane Feinstein, a member of the Intelligence Committee, told George Stephanopoulos that she was not briefed until it was clear that the New York Times was publishing the story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The White House said they briefed the Congress on this matter and there is no law called into question. Do you believe that a law is called into question and that this program might have been illegal?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I’m on the Intelligence Committee. I can tell you when I was briefed and when the committee was briefed — and that was when it became apparent that the New York Times had the story and was going to run it. And that’s when and why they came to us and briefed us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you knew nothing about it before the New York Times was asking questions?
FEINSTEIN: That’s correct.
Of course, this continuing shell game works as long as the “punter” (gullible public) is willing to play. According to the latest Time Magazine poll, the President’s approval rating continues to fall to 35%, down from 37% in March . I think we can assume that the Bush team will become more and more strident as the November elections approach. Let’s hope the public refuses to play.