So the Bush administration is telling us that the secret surveillance of bank transactions that was recently discovered by reporters is limited only to international transactions by people suspected of having ties with terrorists. They're saying that it's all legal and on the up-and-up. They're saying it's a necessary tool in fighting terrorism. They're saying what a shame it is that the American people know about it, because not us not floating along in ignorance helps the terrorists.
Sound familiar? Not too long ago, they were telling us that their wiretapping was all done legally with judicial oversight, that it was limited only to international calls by people suspected of having ties with terrorists, and that it was a necessary tool in fighting terrorism.
But what happened after that? It turns out that the administration was lying. They didn't have judicial oversight. They didn't limit their investigations to international calls, but instead targeted domestic calls. They didn't limit their investigations to "persons of interest," but mined data on every American. They even attacked people who raised questions about its legality and its effect on civil liberties.
Are we supposed to believe, now, that they showed restraint when trying to data mine bank transactions when they clearly couldn't resist doing it with phone records? Are we supposed to believe that they are putting in proper safeguards for Americans' civil liberties?
Only a fool would believe that. True, there's a chance they're actually not lying about this, but it would be foolish, given their history on an extremely similar case that was ocurring on the same time frame, to just take their word for it.
This is the problem with telling lies when you're a politician. Once you're caught lying about stuff, your credibility is shot. Even if you happen to be telling the truth, people have no way of knowing whether you really are telling the truth, or whether you've just been more successful at keeping people of conscience from leaking abuses of power in this case. Once you've demonstrated you'll engage in shady closed-door shenanigans, we have to assume that you're willing to continue doing them.
Now if only we could get the Republican-led legislature to show some backbone and call the president to the carpet for his abuses of power...