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Murder, Press Conferences, and Sammy Jr.

January 28, 2006

As I was writing this week’s column I read the news of 43-year-old Paula Eleazar Mendez, of De Queen, Arkansas. You probably never heard of Paula Elezar Mendez, but it appears she has murdered her three children, ages six, six (twin boys), and eight. Sevier County sheriff's investigator Chris Brackett was quoted as stating, “Why the kids? It's terrible and sad. I can't think of anything worse.” I couldn’t agree more. Mendez herself is now hospitalized for having apparently consumed a toxic substance. I’m not sure if I’d prefer that this ingestion prove fatal or that she survive to stand trial.

Meanwhile, in Washington, President Bush continues to try to win support for domestic spying, sorry, I mean terrorist surveillance. In a press conference held January 26, 2006, President Bush stated, “There's no doubt in my mind there are safeguards in place to make sure the [surveillance] program focuses on calls coming from outside the United States in, within al Qaeda—from a— with a belief that there's an al Qaeda person making the call to somebody here in the States, or vice versa—but not domestic calls.”

Mr. Bush was then asked the following question:

“Members of your administration have said that the secret eavesdropping program might have prevented the September 11th attacks. But the people who hijacked the planes on September 11th had been in this country for years, having domestic phone calls and emails. So how, specifically, can you say that?”

Now pay attention. This is a poignant and relevant question to have asked. Mr. Bush had just stated there has been and will not be any spying of domestic phone calls. The press noted that those who helped organize the September 11 attacks “had been in this country for years,” and thus pointed out a major flaw of the plan as outlined by the President. Here is Bush’s response to the question:

“Well, Michael Hayden said that because he believes that had we had the capacity to listen to the phone calls from those from San Diego to elsewhere we might have gotten information necessary to prevent the attack. And that's what he was referring to.”

Okay, well, that’s fine, but it does not answer the question, does it? Read it again closely. It doesn’t address the basic question being asked the leader of our country. Again, that question is, how can a surveillance program that only monitors calls “coming from outside the United States in, within al Qaeda,” be an effective weapon against terrorism if the terrorists are already in the U.S. and are, thus, making domestic calls?

Here is the rest of the exchange between Bush and the reporter:

Reporter: They were domestic calls—
Bush: No, domestic outside–we will not listen inside this country. It is a call from al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliates, either from inside the country out, or outside the country in, but not domestically.

Um, did I miss something folks, or is he just not getting it?

It’s this kind of double-speak that has been the backbone of the Bush administration. Answering a question without actually answering the question. In this, at least, our President excels.

Well, at least we can watch the unraveling of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramhoff. Not that Mr. Bush is a friend of Jack’s. “You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him.” Time will tell, I guess.

Lastly, it seems that conservative Sam A. Alito, Jr., is likely to be confirmed as our nation’s next Supreme Court justice. Let the back-alley abortions begin. And speaking of Sammy, did’ja know that 3 years ago Mr. A. drew conflict-of-interest accusations after upholding a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against the Vanguard Group? Coincidentally, Alito happened to have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested with Vanguard at the time. He naturally denied any wrongdoing, but nonetheless recused himself from further involvement in the case. Yeah, I think he’ll do fine in Washington.

One closing, cheerful note: Pittsburgh is going to the Superbowl. Tickets are now readily available on e-bay for an estimated $2,500 each. Go capitalism.

Sleep well.

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