by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
February 28, 2008
BUSH AND THE KEYBOARD COMMANDOS
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- As the days tick down toward the eventual departure of President George W. Bush from the White House, it's a hopeful sign that most Americans are no longer moved by his Administration's constant exploitation of terrorism for political gain.
Few Americans take anything that President Bush says seriously, aside from the pundits, bloggers and professional scaremongers who've earned the title of "keyboard commandos" - the people who steadfastly believe they are fighting a war to preserve Western Civilization from "Islamofascists."
President Bush has thrown a hissy fit over the House's refusal to pass the Senate's version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a bill that allows his warrantless wiretapping program to stay in place and gives telecommunications companies legal immunity from prosecution for helping the government spy on its citizens.
President Bush has tried to convince Americans that they are in danger because the bill hasn't been passed. Most Americans just shrugged. There isn't a great deal of support for warrantless wiretapping and for protecting Verizon and AT&T from having to go to court to defend themselves. And, despite the spin put out by the White House and its supporters, the government can still conduct surveillance as it has before, even without the version of the law Mr. Bush wants.
The keyboard commandos, always ready to attack those who question their mission but who aren't ready to enlist in the Army and actually join the fight, would be a laughable group - except that they have been the driving force behind the creation of an out-of-control national surveillance state.
Warrantless wiretapping, the monitoring of e-mails and Web site visits, the ever-growing list of "terror suspects," the various legislation that has given the federal government the power to declare martial law, arrest dissidents and detain people indefinitely without legal recourse is what the fevered fantasies of the keyboard commandos have given us.
We have gotten so accustomed to watching the Democrats cave in to the Bush Administration's demands that we were surprised that the House Democrats finally refused to play along.
Quite simply, the White House maneuvered the FISA vote so it would be dropped into the laps of the House just a few days before an arbitrary deadline. Mr. Bush then said they had to pass it as is, and immediately, or else America would be in danger.
Thankfully, the House rejected this bogus reasoning. And, as expected, the White House, the Republicans in Congress and the keyboard commandos went ballistic. They claimed al-Qaida members were jumping up and down with glee over this vote and that Democrats don't care about keeping America safe.
There are many things we are looking forward to when the Bush Administration finally ends. One of them is the end of the constant fear-mongering - fear-mongering that has led to a weakened Constitution and eroded civil liberties.
There is absolutely no reason why telecommunication companies should not be subject to legal action for helping the Bush Administration break the law. There is absolutely no reason to flout the laws against illegal surveillance. And, there is absolutely no reason why the Democrats can't finally stand up to the constant bullying of an Administration that cries "wolf!" at every turn.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.