Reprogramming the Infinite Loop

The NSA Spying Debate
By Elizabeth de la Vega
It has now been three months since the Bush administration reluctantly admitted that it has been conducting warrantless surveillance on American citizens, despite the explicit prohibitions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Since then, the public has been treated to endless and, unfortunately, fruitless discussion about the issue. We have experts and scholars earnestly responding, and responding yet again, to administration arguments (both legal and factual) that can best be described as protean, internally inconsistent, and occasionally evanescent. We have the administration refusing to explain the program, but enjoining everyone to "trust them." And we have legislators trying to "fix" a problem that is undefined by proposing new laws that the administration doesn't want. We are, in short, trapped in an infinite loop.

In computer parlance, an infinite loop is a coding sequence that has no effective exit because of a flaw in the program. It's a bit like trying to call your HMO with what you think is the flu and having a recording guide you through a series of numbers that land you back at the initial message welcoming you to the system. Of course, you can end that phone loop simply by hanging up. The only way to permanently extract yourself from an infinite loop in a computer program, however, is to find the programming defect. Press the refresh key, check the power chord, buy a new computer -- none of these fixes will work as long as the fundamental flaw in the program is ignored.
[edit:] The fundamental flaw in this case is the "theory of executive powers." Under Bush, a notion that the president has broad sweeping and virtually unlimited reign is the culprit for our nation's current distress.

It is about time for Congress to do something about this problem. It is up to us, "we the people," to encourage Congress to take the necessary steps to ensure accountability from the Bush administration.

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