Friday, May 12, 2006

Bush’s Watergate?

The scale of the USA Today’s exposure of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) confidential tracking of the phone calls of tens of millions of Americans, ‘authorized’ by a secret Presidential executive order - is breathtaking. The content of the calls has not been recorded. Rather the NSA has been collecting and using call data to “analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.” The tracking began shortly after ‘9/11’ when three major telcos – AT&T, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. starting handling over customers' phone calls records to the NSA. Apparently one big telecommunications company, Qwest Communications International Inc., has consistently refused to turn over records to the NSA, citing privacy and legal concerns. Washington is going ballistic. Senior Democrats and Republicans are screaming blue murder.

Thoughts: Shades of Watergate and impeachment in the air. In peacetime this phone tracking of millions of citizens would be outrageous. But at a time of this ‘War on Terror’ where should you draw the line, when you are trying to protect your own citizens? When combined with recent exposures of secret CIA prisons and abuses in Iraq, the unfolding picture is one of a completely unfettered security apparatus. And you have to assume that the press is only seeing a fraction of the secret picture. So the question is – when does Bush push America across the spectrum line of defending the principles of democracy to becoming itself a totalitarian state? I think this did it.

KEY WORDS: Democracy; Politics; Security; Globalisation

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