"A Program By Any Other Name…"
The White House is desperate to change the name of Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program. The White House wants people to call it a “terrorist surveillance program.” The press office even released a handy fact sheet:
Domestic Calls are calls inside the United States. International Calls are calls either to or from the United States.
Domestic Flights are flights from one American city to another. International Flights are flights to or from the United States.
Domestic Mail consists of letters and packages sent within the United States. International Mail consists of letters and packages sent to or from the United States.
Domestic Commerce involves business within the United States. International Commerce involves business between the United States and other countries.
It’s good to know that the White House knows the difference between a domestic flight and an international flight. But it’s completely irrelevant. (Afterall, the White House isn’t asking people to call it an “international surveillance program.”)
The program should have a name to accurately describe it. A combination of two things distinguish this program from all other legal surveillance programs:
1. It was conducted without a warrant. (Warrantless)
2. It involved people on U.S. soil. (Domestic)
If this wasn’t a warrantless domestic surveillance program it wouldn’t be a story. A “terrorist surveillance program” is not descriptive. It could be referring to any number of programs, many of which have been around for decades and are not at all controversial.
Journalists are supposed to describe stories as accurately as possible. Any journalist who uses the label “terrorist surveillance program” isn’t doing their job.