Monday, December 19, 2005

Tap Dancing

By now, you've surely heard the latest "talking point." Cheney has said it, Bush has repeated it and, while I've successfully avoided their echo chamber, today, I'm sure Murdoch has taught it to all of his mimicking minions, by now. The wording varies slightly, from parrot to parrot but the gist of this latest talking point is: "We could have prevented the terrorist attacks of 9/11, if we'd had the wire tapping provisions of the Patriot Act."

Huh? You and I know that for their latest talking point to be true and their assessment correct, they would have had to know the following, in advance of the attacks:

  • That the attacks were being planned

  • The identity of at least one specific operative involved in the planning of the attacks.

  • Approximate, if not specific, locations for each of these known operatives

Clearly, this knowledge, alone, would not have prevented the attacks. In that, they are truthful and correct. Further investigation and surveillance would, indeed, have been required to get the more specific information necessary to foil the terrorists' plot, in time.

But, without this foreknowledge, the extra latitude given them in the Patriot Act wouldn't have done them a whole lot of good because they wouldn't have known which phones to tap or which phone calls merited close attention of the thousands upon thousands of U.S. phones that make & receive foreign calls, each and every day.

It's a no-brainer that we don't have the manpower to dedicate one person's ears to each individual call coming into or going out of the U.S. Surely, they don't expect us to believe that the terrorists would have waited around while we played "terrorist in the landline & cellular haystack" listening to random calls, hoping to happen upon the ONE call out of countless thousands that might alert us to the planning of a possible attack!

So, let's assume that this latest talking point isn't just smoke being blown up our collective noses and that they did have those bits of information that would have made wire tapping a valuable tool in stopping those attacks. That knowledge would have given them enough "just cause" to open up the broader investigative latitude necessary for them to prevent the attacks, using the pre-Patriot Act methods that were already available to them at the time and which, by the way, included provisions for wire-tapping and various other forms of surveillance.

So, as you hear this talking point repeated, over and over and over again, in the next few days, ask yourself the question the press should be asking them:

If they knew enough for wire tapping to have prevented the attacks, why on Earth didn't they employ any (and every!) of the methods they had available to them, at the time, to prevent them?

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