White House

House snubs Bush on spying

The US House of Representatives defied President George W. Bush on Thursday, passing a bill tightening legal oversight of the power of intelligence agents to use wiretaps to eavesdrop on terror suspects.

The bill, approved in the Democratic-led House by 227 votes to 189 did not however meet the president’s demands for retroactive legal immunity to telecommunications firms which may have handed over data to the government.

The White House immediately warned the legislation would “dangerously weaken our ability to protect the nation from foreign threats.”

The uncoverup

As attorney general and designated lightning rod for the Bush administration, John Ashcroft wore his Bible-thumping nature as a suit of Christian armor and a flag of pride.

This regligious zealot from Missouri was so uptight he expressed displasure at a nude statue in the Department of Justice and aides scrambled to cover it up so the AG wouldn’t have his picture taken with a bare breast behind him.

A fresh start

Perhaps not since Watergate, when one former attorney general was headed to jail and another to a perjury conviction, has anyone taken over the Justice Department under more difficult circumstances.

As if to reinforce the impression that he is truly in charge, Michael Mukasey was sworn in as attorney general twice, privately last Friday and ceremonially Wednesday, with President Bush avowing that the former judge “has my complete trust and confidence.”

Still swinging

As America’s ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton was the White House’s most effective defender. Now, as an ex-diplomat, he has become among the administration’s toughest critics. But he critiques from the right, not the left, which probably explains why the elite media are not eager to focus on what he has to say.

Bush vetoes health ed bill

President Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, on Tuesday vetoed a spending measure for health and education programs prized by congressional Democrats.

He also signed a big increase in the Pentagon’s non-war budget although the White House complained it contained “some unnecessary spending.”

The president’s action was announced on Air Force One as Bush flew to New Albany, Ind., on the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., for a speech criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.

Judge to White House: Save emails

A federal judge ordered the White House to preserve copies of all its e-mails, a move that Bush administration lawyers had argued strongly against.

U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy on Monday directed the Executive Office of the President to safeguard the material in response to two lawsuits that seek to determine whether the White House has destroyed e-mails in violation of federal law.

Bush insults vets on Veterans Day

President George W. Bush snubbed America’s 20 million veterans Sunday, hiding out at his Texas ranch on yet another vacation while sending Vice President Dick Cheney, a draft-dodger during the Vietnam War, to Arlington National Cometary for Veterans Day ceremonies.

Bush, who has spent more time on “vacation” than any President in history, made a brief trip to a local American Legion Hall near his Crawford, Texas, ranch for a ceremony honoring four Lone Star vets who have died in Iraq but skipped the traditional Presidential appearance at Arlington.

Big Brother Bush is always watching

Privacy is under assault in America and the government is leading the charge.

Like personal liberties that disappeared under the despotic Presidency of George W. Bush, privacy is becoming an extinct species as the government seeks to monitor all financial transactions, travel and communications of Americans.

Now the Bush Administration wants to “redefine” privacy to fit its assault on the personal freedoms and civil liberties of American citizens.

By the time Bush is finished, the preamble to that historic document that once defined this nation will have to be changed to say that Americans are entitled to “a monitored life, a government-mandated notion of happiness and the terror of pursuit.”

Will Bush ever call Musharraf?

President George W. Bush has not telephoned Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf since he imposed emergency rule and cracked down on protesters in a crisis that the White House on Tuesday called a “mistake.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino also described the situation in Pakistan as a setback and a crisis in its “early days,” and said it was premature to call Musharraf a dictator.

Mukasey’s mistake

Former federal judge Michael Mukasey will certainly be confirmed as U.S. attorney general, but the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 11-8 approval of this otherwise qualified candidate was closer than it should have been.

Mukasey’s misstep was to appear to denounce torture without exception on the first day of his hearings and then come back the next and appear to waffle on a particular form of brutal interrogation — waterboarding — that the White House finds acceptable but many others consider to clearly be torture.