MORE POWERFUL THAN CHENEY:
has a weird definition of “vindicated.” The Republican nominee for vice president claims to be “very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there.” In fact, the 263-page report by veteran prosecutor
on the Alaska governor’s firing of a top state law enforcement officer who refused to fire her former brother-in-law, a state trooper, found that “Governor Palin abused her power by violating (the section of) the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act” that says “any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”
The Anchorage Daily News labels the governor’s attempt to spin the report in her favor “Orwellian.” That’s true. But be careful about getting lost in the Palintological details of the governor’s attempts to tamp down discussion of her wrongdoing in Alaska. What ought to concern voters this November is not merely Palin’s status as an officially confirmed abuser of power but, more important, the fact of her enthusiasm about further upsetting the federal system of checks and balances. In the vice presidential debate, the governor declared herself to be “thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president.” Only Vice President
‘s copy of the Constitution allows the flexibility that Palin imagines, and remarkably, after eight years of Cheney’s power grabs, the Republican nominee to succeed him proposes “a bit more.” Of all the disqualifiers for the McCain-Palin ticket, this one merits consideration for the top of the list. JOHN NICHOLS
PHONE SEX AND NATIONAL SECURITY:
To the many novel questions that the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has raised regarding security and liberty, add a new one: what does phone sex have to do with preventing terrorism? An October 9 ABC News story based on independent accounts of two former military intercept officers with the National Security Agency reported that the NSA surveillance program routinely intercepted extremely private calls of Americans abroad having more to do with sex than security. Giving “information sharing” new meaning, officers would tag the conversations and pass them around to their fellow intelligence officers.
David Murfee Faulk
, a former Arab linguist for the Navy, he’d be told by another soldier, “Hey, check this out, there’s good phone sex…pull up this call, it’s really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say ‘Wow, this was crazy.'” A linguist with the Army Reserves assigned to the NSA told of listening in on hundreds of conversations of Americans abroad, including many workers for the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.
The administration’s response was predictable: A spokesman for Gen.
, head of the NSA at the time these incidents occurred, asserted that “the notion that General Hayden sanctioned or tolerated illegalities of any sort is ridiculous on its face.” Really? Isn’t Hayden the man who oversaw the NSA spying program at a time when the whole program was criminal on its face because it violated Congress’s criminal prohibition on any foreign intelligence electronic surveillance undertaken outside the purview of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?