The Gang of Eight

The “Gang of Eight,” that select group of representatives who were let in on the National Spy Agenda (N.S.A.) from the very beginning, where were they when they realized that something must be going very wrong when thousands of phone calls and other electronic communications are being routinely intercepted? Why is it that not a one of them had the guts to stand in the well of the House or Senate and denounce these violations of our privacy and the security of our most intimate conversations? Or just buttonhole a couple of reporters in the hallway and whisper that something rotten is going on in Washington?

Maybe most of the current gang just didn’t know. After all, only Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert have been there from the beginning and Nancy has been much too busy heading up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and carrying out her leadership functions to pay close attention.

The Senators Reid, Frist, Roberts and Rockefeller, as well as Representatives Hoekstra and Harman, were inducted into the secret club after the program was already well under way. Maybe they simply concluded that their predecessors’ judgement ought not to be questioned–that Gebhardt and Daschle and Lott, Graham, Shelby and Porter Goss having signed off on this program of electronic home invasions made it OK.

But where are Gebhardt and Daschle and Graham now that the absurdity of tracking millions of transmissions on the off-chance that some foreign terrorists is making contact with an American cell has been revealed? What’s their take on the fact that the F.B.I. has been dispatched to monitor Quakers and the organizers of a vegetarian food kitchen and narry a foreign terrorist has been found? (That Americans continue to be terrorized by domestic hate crimes on a daily basis seems of no interest).

If the “proof is in the pudding” or, in this case, the Mouss (aoui), who’s been sending our agents on one wild goose chase after another (during which many a flower garden gets trampled, by the way), then it seems pretty obvious that terrorists of mass destruction (TMD) in the U.S. are about as prevalent as WMD in Iraq.

So, what’s the program of mass surveillance really about? Disrupting the network of electronic communications somehow doesn’t look like “protecting our freedoms” to me.