T Nation

A Defining Realignment

I just want to say how much this is beginning to irritate me, the more I start paying attention to politics again.

Bush pretty much saying that Congress can’t stop him, Cheney defending searching through financial records… and a troop surge like this…the only thing that I like is that I have read that they are putting Lt. Gen. David Petraeus back in charge of the situation…and I never quite understood why they removed him.

Either way, the more I read, the more I get the feeling that it is too late, and that Bush is not only committing political suicide by doing all of this, but also putting more troops in harms way, but not enough that the situation could be controlled…regardless, it is too late for all of this- it should have been done four years ago.

This will have even more of a backlash on the Republican party, especially if you view the midterm elections as a mandate from the people that the Iraq situation is being handled improperly.

A Defining Realignment

By Howard Fineman
Jan. 22, 2007 issue - Ted Kennedy speaks with the voice of history. White-maned and nearing 75, the brother of two assassinated heroes and a veteran of 44 Senate years, he is?in defiance of the odds?again in his prime: a chairman in good health with a doting wife and a packed legislative agenda.

No one tells Ted Kennedy what to do; in any case, the Senate’s Democratic leaders were fine with his plan to give a big speech two days before President George W. Bush announced a troop “surge” in Iraq. They are generally glad to let Kennedy play the role he relishes: Irish-American Isaiah, calling his party to account even as legislative insiders keep their distance.

This time party brass got more than they bargained for. Summoning the authority of his years as an intimate witness to history, Kennedy made an eloquent case for a Senate vote on the surge and for a court test of its legitimacy under the War Powers Resolution. “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam!” he thundered. “Echoes of that disaster are all around us today!”

It was, in its own way, a defining moment. He got a standing ovation and, the next day, congratulations all around on the Hill. By the end of the week?in the aftermath of Bush’s tepid speech and Condi Rice’s evasive testimony?Kennedy looked prescient.

A generation ago, a war?Vietnam?launched a realignment of American politics. Now, it seems increasingly clear, Iraq is doing the same. In 1968 college students flocked to the New Hampshire primary to protest Lyndon Johnson’s policies, sparking a civil war in the Democratic Party on foreign policy that lasted for a generation. By contrast, Vietnam united the GOP around an anti-communist crusade that endured for decades. “Ronald Reagan was gung-ho about Vietnam,” says Craig Shirley, a GOP operative and Reagan biographer. “It solidified his world view, and the party’s.”

Now a mirror image is developing. Democrats seem to be uniting around a theme?the primacy of global diplomacy and congressional review. Republicans, by contrast, have lost the unity that they had during the cold war and the early years of the war on terror.

As Republican divisions grow, Democrats, pressed by their antiwar grass roots, are drawing together. Except for “Independent Democrat” Sen. Joe Lieberman, Dems are increasingly of one mind about Iraq in particular and antiterrorism strategy in general. A vote on surge spending?which Democratic Senate leaders had hoped to avoid and which is technically difficult to devise?now is likely at some point. In general, the party seems less fearful of the old “soft on defense” shibboleth, and ever more tolerant of groups such as Win Without War and Move On. One of the Senate’s few other hawkish Democrats, Sen. Evan Bayh, told me that he opposes the surge, and agreed that Congress might have to face the question of funding at some point. The Senate’s growing ranks of Democratic presidential contenders?Chris Dodd jumped in last week, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are expected to do so soon?are gravitating toward a bring-them-home-quickly stance. “We don’t want to come off looking like wimps,” said Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton supporter and former party chairman. But he added: “We’re jumping all over ourselves now to see who can be the toughest on Bush and the war.” It’s a fateful competition?which Ted Kennedy already won.


There’s always room for one more backfire.

While I am certainly all for using diplomacy and working towards a peaceful future through non-military means, the democrats are in danger if they assume that military means are never necessary.

Can the political system serve up some type of middle ground, or is it doomed to polar opposites due to it’s current divisive and antagonistic nature?

[quote]vroom wrote:

Can the political system serve up some type of middle ground, or is it doomed to polar opposites due to it’s current divisive and antagonistic nature?[/quote]

When you have a president that pretty much says, “Try and stop me”…then yea, it is.

Investigating finanacial records of suspected criminals those suspected of spying or worse is not exactly something new. See the reference to the Ames investigation in 1994.

Being an American citizen doesn’t protest you from investigation. The law protects you from unlawful investigation the results of that investigation being used as evidence.

The Times is attempting to create a story. Something they’ve substituted for actual investigative reporting.

Pentagon Viewing Americans’ Bank Record

Jan 14, 7:19 AM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon and to a lesser extent the CIA have been using a little-known power to look at the banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage within the United States, officials said Saturday.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Saturday the Defense Department “makes requests for information under authorities of the National Security Letter statutes … but does not use the specific term National Security Letter in its investigatory practice.”

Whitman did not indicate the number of requests that have been made in recent years, but said authorities operate under the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the National Security Act.

“These statutory tools may provide key leads for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations,” Whitman said. “Because these are requests for information rather than court orders, a DOD request under the NSL statutes cannot be compelled absent court involvement.”

“It is our understanding that the intelligence community agencies make such requests on a limited basis,” said Carl Kropf, a spokesman for the Office of the National Intelligence Director, which oversees all 16 spy agencies in the government.

The national security letters permit the executive branch to seek records about people in terror and spy investigations without a judge’s approval or grand jury subpoena.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the lead agency on domestic counterterrorism and espionage, has issued thousands of national security letters since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Whitman said Defense Department “counterintelligence investigators routinely coordinate … with the FBI.”

The national security letters have prompted criticism and court challenges from civil liberties advocates who claim they invade the privacy of Americans’ lives, even though banks and other financial institutions typically turn over the financial records voluntarily.

The New York Times reported on expanded use of the technique by the Pentagon and CIA in an article posted Saturday on the Internet.

The vast majority of national security letters are issued by the FBI, but in very rare circumstances they have been used by the CIA before and after 9/11, said a U.S. intelligence official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity.

The CIA has used these non-compulsory letters in espionage investigations and other circumstances, the official said.

“It is very uncommon for the agency to be issuing these letters,” the official said. “The agency has the authority to do so, and it is absolutely lawful.”

Another government official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said one example of a case in which the letters were used was the 1994 case of CIA officer Aldrich Ames, who eventually was found to have been selling secrets to the Soviet Union.

None of the officials reached by the AP commented about the extent of use by the Defense Department agencies, but the Times said military intelligence officers have sent the letters in up to 500 investigations.

Associated Press Writer Katherine Shrader contributed to this report.