Saturday, December 31, 2005

Missing the Real Wiretap Story

I know UPI isn't what it used to be -- ever since it was purchased in 2000 by Reverend Moon's News World Communications (which also owns the always objective Washington Times), it cannot really be trusted. But this article is particularly amusing. The headline says, "Bush was denied wiretaps, bypassed them." Aw, poor George. He had to authorize his own spying because the court wouldn't.

The first two paragraphs of the story portray Bush as victim: "...the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than the four previous presidential administrations combined." How dare they deny King George? They must be activist judges!

The third and fourth paragraphs give hard numbers, and that's where the real story is found. The court "modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications approved over the first 22 years of the court's operation." You can feel the Limbaugh-esque indignation in this statement: "But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration."

Whoa, hold on there! You mean that there were 13,102 requests over 22 years and 5,645 requests in the past four years? That is the story! I cannot speak for the court, but perhaps their interference had something to do with the Bush administration's unprecedented volume of warrant requests. I know this sort of thing probably ebbs and flows, but let's look at the average number of requests in the first 22 years: 596 per year. Now what about the last four years? 1,411 per year! It sounds to me like this administration is going wild with surveillance. Did the United States really become suddenly, dangerously overrun with enemies of the state? Of course it didn't. But four years ago, an administration came into power with a strong desire to quash all dissent.

Gotta keep an eye on those Quakers. You never know when they might decide to sow their wild oats!

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