Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Patriot Act: Coverup for Incompetence?

The FBI missed at least five chances to capture two of the 9/11 hijackers during the period before 9/11/01. These findings are similar to the 9/11 Commission’s report last summer. This new report also gives more details about bureaucratic breakdowns that plagued the FBI prior to 9/11, and questions whether these problems have been fixed yet.

In this case an FBI agent was working with the CIA. He wanted to pass some information about the two future hijackers to the FBI, but the CIA stopped him. Hello: right hand, meet the left hand.

In July 2001 the FBI “mishandled” some information about al Qaeda members looking for flight training schools in the Phoenix area. A “cumbersome” computer system was partially blamed in that case.

What, this isn’t the fault of the ACLU and those whining liberals?

We have bureaucratic ineptitude, FBI offices not communicating with each other, the FBI and CIA not sharing information, and cumbersome computer systems. While these problems continue to fester, our politicians keep pushing for a bigger and more intrusive Patriot Act.

Who needs competence on the job when it’s so much easier to just peek at everybody’s library records and search their homes and businesses without their knowledge. So little surveillance, so many damn constitutional amendments…

Where’s the logic here? Sometimes plain old competence and efficiency are better than adding new gizmos and bells and whistles. Are terrorists getting into the country because some people just aren’t doing their jobs, or because the American people have too many civil liberties and aren’t being spied on enough?

Let’s say you have a $20,000 state-of-the-art home security system. One day you leave the house and you leave the door unlocked and the security system turned off. You get home and discover your house has been burglarized; everything you own has been broken or stolen. Your response is:

(A) After beating yourself up for being so careless (and visualizing the torture methods you‘ll be using on the burglar when you catch him), you promise yourself that every time you leave the house you’ll be 100% certain to turn on the security system and lock the doors.

(B) You decide that your measly $20,000 security system isn’t good enough. Now it’s time to shell out $80,000 and get that All-New Super Gonzo IntruderBlaster Security System. (And if you forget to turn it on, hey, shit happens.)

If you want the Patriot Act, you chose (B).


Blogger ~jay said...

among the most frustrating things is...it seems to me, most of the civil liberties restricted by the Patriot Act are of minimal use in a so-called terror investigation and are a lot more useful in getting things such as the more radical Marijuana Gestapo Witch Hunt bill through. I mean, if Americans will bend over and take it for this, surely they'll bend over for anything the fundamentalists send their way.

I'm also becoming increasingly convinced that Christian Fundamentalists deserve their own party. They're getting so ridiculous that it's hard to call them Republicans anymore.

My vote? The Zealot Party, who will inevitably adopt hormone-fed beef cattle with BSE as their mascot, as it reflects both the intellect and personality of the average partisan.

In all seriousness, though, great post on a topic that sees a lot of shockingly-positive press from this "liberal" media I keep hearing about.


June 11, 2005 at 9:58 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

~jay: Yeah, the Patriot Act (like most other curtailments on civil liberties) doesn't accomplish much in the way of security. But it sure does show how willing lots of people are to just bend over whenever Big Brother says to.

I've been wondering for 20 years why the Fundamentalists are Republicans, and why they don't just form their own party.

June 11, 2005 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

you know, these guys are starting to get on my nerves.

anyone with me on this? anyone???

June 12, 2005 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Great post Tom!! It's too bad they can't legislate COMMON SENSE huh? Once more I would urge everyone to contact their legislative representatives and let them know how you stand on the issue of the patriot act! Who knows--if enough people come alive and start fighting for their rights, maybe we can turn things around:)

June 12, 2005 at 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Bee said...

I don't know that contacting our representatives is enough, as I'm increasingly (ok, completely, for some time now) of the opinion that my particular pair of assholes in the Senate, Warner & Allen of VA, have their heads so far up the neo-con tuckus that they haven't seen light of day in 4 1/2 years. Contact them, you get a form letter back saying how great BushCo is, and how wonderful the patriot act is, and how we're fighting terrorists and doing a great job rah rah sis boom bah.

In other words, these two guys, at least, have already made up their minds to tote the Religious Reich's agenda - because they are religious reich, they are in the same mentality as the neo-cons, and they're just as crooked as Delay, when you get right down to it.

So how do we fight back - other than hope for some swing in 2006? Some laws may need to be broken, and soon.

June 12, 2005 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Nariel said...

Yes, I am beginning to wonder just exactly when, where and how the average Joe of America that used to enjoy Constitutional freedom in this nation (ohhh some five generations back) can even be heard by the Capitol?

Evidently, we are not being heard (or are not being listened to)
Evidently, cries for freedom are no longer branded as freedom of speech but subversive speech.

The facts remain that the 911 situation was riddled with misinformation, and it was upon that, that we founded the Patriot Act to begin with.

Why were there no arabs found on the flight rosters?
Why was the government playing simulation games nearly simultaneously?
Why were certain persons given the ability to fly out of the nation at a time when no one should have been goin anywhere?
Why did our President choose to sit and read about goats for about 40 minutes following the attack of the nation (as it was branded)?
Why did the Secret Service not have him airborne, if we are under attack?

Too many oddities, to call it all

June 12, 2005 at 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

I.M. Dedd: Sorry, you're all alone here. They're coming to take you away :)

Kevin: Thanks. It's certainly worth contacting legislators, but like Bee says, too many of them are already in Bush/Rove's pocket. Sometimes those e-mail blitzes work, like the one for the Downing Street memo that lots of blogs are linked to.

Bee: I think the days of responsive legislators might have gone the way of the hula hoop and the drive-in movie -- regardless of political affiliation. I know two people who contacted Lynn Woolsey (one of the most liberal members of Congress) for help after every other channel had been exhausted. All they got from her was a generic form letter; no help or personal response whatsoever. They only care about their corporate donors. The rest of us can just drop dead as far as they're concerned. This used to be called taxation without representation.

Patricia: Yeah, I'm not sure how or when that change took place, but it sure happened. The American archetype used to be the cowboy riding off into the sunset, or Clint Eastwood staring squinty-eyed at the bad guy. At some point that morphed into "hey, we're at war. Sure, I'll be happy to bend over and do whatever Big Brother tells me to do." I liked the old version better.

And there sure are lots of inconsistencies with 9/11. Bin Laden's relatives being hustled out of the country right after the 9/11 attacks, etc. It doesn't add up.

June 12, 2005 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

It's 100% certain we had intelligence gaps that needed closing. It's also 100% certain that in closing those gaps, our politicians of all persuasions became obsessed with safety in the direct aftermath of 9/11 and gave away citizens' rights in order to protect them. This was too much. The Act should be reviewed and reduced while the intelligence gaps should be continually worked on to prevent such a thing from happening again. This is the only honest way to solve this delemma.

June 12, 2005 at 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

OK Democrat: Yes, there needs to be a better balance between civil liberties and our security. The key is constant vigilance and making sure all departments are streamlined and efficient, and making sure each person does his/her job. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as just stripping away constitutional protections and allowing mass surveillance.

June 12, 2005 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Trudging said...

Yep, pretty much.

June 12, 2005 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Jet said...

Excuse me, has anybody seen my right to privacy lately? It seems to have gone missing. If you find it, you can mail it to me at:

Over-regulated Private Hell
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washmysins, D.C.

June 12, 2005 at 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Trudging: Yup, that's about it.

Jet: You are hereby summoned to appear before the Ministry of Truth to answer charges of disparaging The Great Leader.

June 12, 2005 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

Wow, good post and a great discussion. I think if we all keep writing, educating, and speaking up and out that maybe we can make a difference - kind of a teach by example thing. I agree that our representatives in general are out of touch or have been brainwashed by the Neo-con/Christian fascist movement..all the more reason to exercise our rights as citizens and our patriotic duty...You remember, they described it in our Jr. High history books..maybe those people were fooling around in the back row and missed that lesson!

June 12, 2005 at 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Kitchen Window Woman: Yeah, it's good that more people are blogging and mass-emailing about current issues. If there's enough of a groundswell, it'll get harder and harder for legislators to keep pretending they're deaf and blind.

June 12, 2005 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Government denial + paranoia + power greed. It all adds up to the stubborn governing of the Patriot Act.

Who needs civil liberties anyway?

June 12, 2005 at 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Sar: Civil liberties? Come on, that's so 1990s :)

June 12, 2005 at 8:00 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

The Goppers have been all about controlling the citizenry for some time, while spouting the Orwellian promises of "freedom."

Welcome to the New World Order, as applied locally.

June 12, 2005 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Mags said...

Tom, wonderful post. I have been quite busy the last few weeks and haven't been able to come by as much as I had hoped. But once again, your posts did not disappoint. I agree with ~jay in that the blasted NeoCons need to form their own party (The Rapture Party, perhaps?). I bet there are some moderate Republicans out there that want to kick their Bible-thumping, uterus invading, stem-cell-research cockblocking, medical marijuana hating, conservative judge nominating, moralist posturing asses out of the party, too. Oy vey. Aren't things getting just a LITTLE bit out of hand?

By the way, thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere and am honored by any comments you leave behind. Have a great week!

June 12, 2005 at 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Jolly Roger: Hey, you're a threat to Freedom :)

Really, so much of the past four years have been straight out of every George Orwell book, I just can't believe how many people are getting sucked in. Sometimes it seems like everybody who's ever read anything by George Orwell (or Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Ayn Rand, Tom Wolfe, anybody who makes you think) instantly had a lobotomy, or died, right after reading it. Where is everybody?

Mags: Thanks for your comment. I see (from your post) that you've had jury duty. I stop by your site all the time; I don't always think of a comment to make.

Yeah, like ~jay says, why are these Fundamentalists even part of the Republican party? We have a) smaller government, individualism, sink or swim on your own, and b) God (by way of the government) controls everything you do; both co-existing in the same party. I don't get it. Why haven't they killed each other? (If only they would.)

June 12, 2005 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger ~jay said...

this lack of individual freedoms thing does go against everything I learned firsthand FROM the Republicans in my school days.

As noxious as Republicans used to be, the ones who insist on things like the Patriot Act are flying in the face of the "minimize regulation and keep big government down" approach that I was always taught.

I remember a day when Dems were accused of trying to over-regulate when we wanted to reform handgun laws.

"Those were the dayyyyyyyys.....*


June 13, 2005 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I am the host of the Philosophical Question of the Day (PQD) Blog where we pose questions that may appeal to you. For instance, we have asked questions regarding security vs. civil liberties. Please consider visiting the blog at http://pqd.negativespace.com and subscribing to the PQD Blog Alert so that you can be notified when new PQDs are posted. Just e-mail me at pqd@negativespace.com with the e-mail address you would like the Alert sent to. Also, please encourage your friends and colleagues to join as we are seeking to boost membership to the PQD Blog, a free blog for free expression.

June 13, 2005 at 8:43 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

~jay: Yup, those were the days. They somehow just morphed from self-reliance and limited government to "we love Big Brother and we just don't get enough of him."

And they still keep their same "small government" rhetoric. They'll talk about environmental laws being equal to Nazi Germany, and at the same time they're saying anyone who disagrees with the Patriot Act hates America.

Jason: I'll check it out.

June 13, 2005 at 10:21 AM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

The title says it all. YES, the Patiot Act is a coverup for incompetence.

June 14, 2005 at 5:09 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Gun-Toting Liberal: Yup, I think that's mostly all it is.

June 14, 2005 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger profmarcus said...

great blog...!

June 14, 2005 at 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Profmarcus: Thanks. I just checked out your site -- "And Yes I DO Take It Personally." Looks really good.

June 14, 2005 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

I can't even think about this issue without getting worked up anymore. And to make it worse, the biggest ass behind the misnamed Patriot Act, Representative James Sensenbrenner, is my 'representative.'

In his most recent act of petulance, he slammed the gavel down on recent Judiciary Committee hearing about the Patriot Act. He was rude to his colleages and the witnesses called to give testimony before the Judiciary Committee. He went so far as to shut off the microphones and ignore the points of order brought up by the minority members.

It's not much, but I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to please call his office and leave a message at 202-225-5101 or email him at sensenbrenner@mail.house.gov If you want, you can cut and paste the following simple statement:

Congressman Sensenbrenner,

Your recent behavior as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee requires an apology. Your actions were out of line and your statements were uncalled for.


June 15, 2005 at 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Shawn: Yeah, I read about that on several other blogs, Sensenbrenner slamming the gavel down and storming out during the hearing. He's also the one that's pushing that drug law where you could get up to ten years in prison for not squealing on your friends or neighbors if you know they're violating a drug law. He's gotta go. I'll send that e-mail.

June 15, 2005 at 2:23 AM  

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