TOLEDO, Ohio -- Presidential adviser Karl Rove criticized a federal judge's order for an immediate end to the government's warrantless surveillance program, saying Wednesday such a program might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Rove said the government should be free to listen if al Qaeda is calling someone within the U.S. "Imagine if we could have done that before 9/11. It might have been a different outcome," he said.
It's time to be done with the dangerous fiction that this kind of thing is just "hardball politics" – or indeed, politics of any kind, as the term is normally understood in a democracy. What Rove is giving voice to here is nothing less than the new blood libel of our age: that those who oppose the Bush Administration's unconstitutional actions are opening the door to a new 9/11. The implication is clear: anyone who speaks up for the Constitution is working for the death of innocent Americans. They are, by definition, traitors. Thus they deserve what traitors get: death.
Rove is being only slightly less circumspect than the innumerable Bushist sycophants and bootlickers yapping in the echo chamber of the right-wing media, who say openly that pro-Constitution citizens are actively yearning for another 9/11; they want the terrorists "to win;" they want more Americans to die. Every day this drumbeat grows louder: traitors are among us, terrorist-lovers are among us, they're going to get us killed, we must stop them – at all costs.
Karl Rove knows full well that the words he spoke in Toledo were a lie. He know that the government had the power and the Constitutional right "to listen if al Qaeda [was] calling someone in the U.S." before 9/11, just as it does now, through the very FISA secret court system that Bush's warrantless surveillance openly circumvents. Rove knows that the FISA judges require only the barest hint of possible terrorist connections (or perhaps none at all, as far as we know) to authorize such wiretaps, which they had done without a single demur thousands of times before 9/11. What's more, Rove knows that the government could initiate such wiretaps instantly, without any warrant whatsoever, and keep them running for 72 hours before seeking retroactive approval from the ever-compliant FISA court.
Rove knows there is not a single imaginable circumstance in which the interception of communications involving the alleged 9/11 hijackers would have been blocked by the Congressionally-mandated, Constitutional FISA system in place before the attacks. There is no imaginable circumstance in which the communications of even remotely suspected terrorists would be blocked by FISA today. Thus Bush's warrantless surveillance program is completely unnecessary for "listening in if al Qaeda is calling someone in the U.S.," or for the monitoring of any other remotely possible terrorist threat.
From this reality, we can draw only one conclusion: the warrantless surveillance program is being used for something other than monitoring the communications of terrorist suspects and those connected to them. This is doubly confirmed by the fact that over the past few years, Congress has repeatedly asked the Bush Administration if it needed even stronger surveillance powers than the frankly draconian FISA court already gave them. No, no, said Bush's minions; what we have is good enough.
Good enough to monitor terrorist threats, yes; but clearly not sweeping enough for whatever it is the Bush Administration is actually doing with its warrantless surveillance program.
And what are they really doing? Karl Rove knows, of course – but we don't. One key aspect of the program is certain, however: whether it's being used against terrorist suspects, or political opponents, or competitors of the Bush Faction's corporate cronies, the main purpose of the program is to establish the principle that the "unitary executive" cannot be bound by any law. It is yet another step in the careful, fully conscious construction of a presidential dictatorship, a new kind of state to replace the old Constitutional Republic that Bush and his fellow elitists find so inconvenient to their pursuit of wealth, dominion and ideological fantasy.
So here is where we are. The president's chief adviser is deliberately telling lies about the Administration's clearly criminal peeping-tom program, lies deliberately constructed to sow fear among the American people – and murderous hatred for those who oppose presidential dictatorship.
This isn't politics. This isn't partisanship. This is blood libel, and it will end in blood – sooner, not later.