The President's speech tonight reiterated the same themes about plans for Iraq that the Administration has echoed for some time: In essence, the intelligence may have been wrong, but taking action in Iraq was right; terrorism won't go away if we leave Iraq, so we're going to stay; the US will stay in Iraq, reconstructing the country and supporting the Iraqi military until "victory" has been achieved.
Whether the Iraq policy is right or wrong (and it seems like America is doing a lot of good there, whether or not we got into it under the right pretenses), there's good reason to be concerned about the Adminstration's other plans for national security. Members of the Senate are sufficiently worried about renewing the USA Patriot Act that they're blocking its renewal -- despite the President's apparent rush to get it reauthorized for four more years. Why does it need further review? First of all, the President's been authorizing domestic surveillance that appears to violate all kinds of laws. And second, we've heard stories of some pretty scary abuse -- like the UMass student who got a visit from federal agents for requesting the wrong library book. In America!
It's all too similar to Sinclair Lewis's novel It Can't Happen Here, a nightmarish vision of what can happen if the wrong people spend too much time justifying intrusions on civil liberties with the "just trust us" excuse.
On the upside, at least we got some good news this week: Free trade seems to have made some steps forward during talks in Hong Kong. And some progress may be emerging in the fight against Nigerian bank scams.