Saturday, May 13, 2006

President Bush Urges Congress to Confirm Hayden

From Yahoo! - President Bush urged the Senate today to move quickly to approve U.S. Gen. Michael Hayden to head the CIA and defended his administration's actions in a new domestic spying controvery.

Here's how I see this headline:
President Bush told Senate to trust his instincts on the person he feels is most qualified for the job, despite a recent failure in nominating the best qualified person for the Supreme Court (Harriet Miers) and despite the fact that so much of what he has asked Congress and the American people to trust him on have come to be not what he insisted they were.

And he defended his actions in a new domestic spying controversy, where it became evident that the collection wasn't as narrowly tailored as he insisted it was a few months ago and that millions of AMERICAN CITIZENS have had their numbers and/or conversations collected without their knowledge.

Here's my problem with the former. President Bush, despite his declarations to the contrary, is NOT the decider. He is a public servant, and one who is supposed to be checked by Congress. That he would pressure Congress to mindlessly follow his nomination without considering the level of the man's qualifications (remember, Gen. Hayden is the one who got the fourth amendment wrong) on the heels of his track record is ludicrous. It's shameful that Congress has basically acted as a rubber stamp to the president's motives so far; but it's been encouraging to see Republican congresspeople stepping back and questioning the validity of what the president wants, even if it might be motivated in part by survival instinct. And if General Hayden is qualified, then appointing him after the requisite background check would not be harmful, at least no more so than many of the other things that the President has been slow on the draw for.

My problem with the latter? Well first, there's the whole issue of privacy. First we were told they only did this when there were foreigners, or when they had a warrant. Then we were told that, well, yeah, we do monitor citizens as well, without warrants, but only the BAD ones, and the jury (so to speak) on whether this is legal is still out. Now, we've learned that the BAD ones must include tens of mllions of US Citizens, because that's how many numbers they are tracking. And the defenses for these latent invasions of our privacy run two tracks. First, there's the "it's to defend us from terrorism" thread, which may have some merit, but if that's the case, then get a freaking warrant. Guilt should come from evidence. Evidence shouldn't come from a dragnet search of everyone. Next we'll be seeing enemies lists. The second defense is the "well, Clinton did it too." My son plays this argument. "Daughter hit me, so I hit her back." That doesn't make it right. Sure Clinton sponsored Managed Health Care, and the majority of Americans rejected it. Clinton did many bad bad things, criminal things, even. He was impeached. Do you really think defending your actions by pointing to an impeached predecessor is the best way to do it? That sounds like justifying ten murders by pointing out Ted Bundy killed fifteen.

I said once that we need to support the president; and I believe that. But that is based on a certain level of trust and credibility, which I think has long since eroded.


Bookworm said...

If it makes things easier for you, I heard an NPR story which said that people in the CIA are thrilled with the Hayden nomination. He's liked and respected at all levels. Of course, since the CIA is hostile to Bush, this may indicate even more that Bush is not necessary very adept at selecting people to carry out his initiatives.

Steve said...


It's not the nomination of General Hayden that troubles me; indeed, if he is most qualified, then I think the job should go to him. What bothers me is the trust me, I know best implication that comes from the statements.