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December 28, 2005

UPI stretches to excuse Bush wiretaps

In what lots of newswatchers are flat-out misreading as a juicy piece of scoop, this tiny United Press International article about Bush's nefarious wiretapping enterprise is making the rounds despite a bogus premise.

Just for starters, UPI referred to the recently exposed eavesdropping as "international wiretaps," when in fact it is their decidedly domestic nature that is causing particular controversy. But did the leftist bloggers linking to and reprinting this bizarre piece of journalism note that? Nope... They don't seem to have noticed.

The article states as fact:

Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the [FISA] court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.

But UPI's own story reveals that nearly all of the 179 known changes to warrant requests, and all of the known rejections, took place long after Bush ordered the NSA to begin warrantless spying on Americans.

A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years -- the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court's history.

According to the original NY Times expose, the warrantless spying by NSA began in 2002.

This piece is an attempt to provide an excuse for Bush, who has had a very difficult time explaining why he needed to bypass the FISA courts.

A decent version of this story would have a very different, far more important lead -- one not meant to distract the reader from the real story:

The Bush administration tried to push an unprecedented number of technically invalid domestic eavesdropping warrants through a secret court, even after deciding it did not need to seek or abide by that court's authority.

One has to connect the dots when reading stories like this, not just copy-and-paste like so many bloggers are used to doing. Even most leftist analysts seem increasingly unwilling to read anything other than what they want a story to say, dependent as they are on mainstream corporate journalism.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.