Sunday, February 05, 2006

Reuters: White House Plays Talking Points Game On NSA Spying

If we have learned anything in the first five years of the Bush administration, it's this: if you just keep repeating the same talking points ad nauseum, the press will dutifully spread your message without undertaking much (or any) fact-checking about it at all.

It happens all of the time on the cable news networks and the Sunday talk shows and it happened again this morning on FOX when General Michael Hayden was sent out by the White House to spread lies about the NSA domestic spying program:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration defended a domestic spying program on Sunday, saying it was tightly targeted only at people suspected of having ties to al Qaeda, but a Republican senator who is to lead hearings on it said he believes the White House acted outside the law.

On the eve of what are expected to be highly combative Senate hearings on the domestic eavesdropping, Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, deputy director of intelligence, said on television news programs the intercepts target only people whom intelligence analysts believe have links to al Qaeda.

``This is focused on al Qaeda. The only justification we have to undertake this program is to detect and prevent attacks against the United States,'' Hayden, the architect of the eavesdropping, said on ``Fox News Sunday.''

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will sound the same theme on Monday of limited, selected monitoring of American citizens' communications when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

His prepared testimony argues that the White House could not have sought more explicit permission from Congress without risking spilling intelligence secrets.
Luckily, Reuters noted how this Washington Post article blew the administration's rationale for illegal wiretapping out of the water this morning by revealing that the vaunted NSA spying programs tracks thousands and thousands of innocent Americans, yet has helped catch no domestic terrorists and onl serves to hamper other efforts in the war on terror:

As head of the National Security Administration at the time of the September 11 attacks, Hayden briefed leaders in Congress on the eavesdropping program.

Hayden declined to comment on a story in The Washington Post on Sunday which said that nearly all of the thousands of Americans subjected to the surveillance program have been dismissed as potential suspects.

According to the newspaper, intelligence officers heard nothing suspicious in the calls and saw no reason to suspect most of the people of improper activity, according to current and former government officials and sources in the private sector familiar with the technology being used.
Of course, on FOX News General Hayden was pampered with soft questions, no follow-ups and the undying admiration of Chris Wallace and the rest of the gang. Hayden was able to regurgitate his talking points and leave the viewer with the impression that we must engage in warrantless domestic surveillance in order to save the future of the Republic (a lie) and we could have stopped 9/11 if only we had been engaging in warrantless domestic surveillance before hand (an even bigger lie - we knew about two of the 9/11 hijackers and still couldn't stop the attacks.)

With the amount of bullshit that gets uttered on the FOX News set, it's amazing Wallace and the gang haven't suffocated to death.

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