George W. Bush

With the 2016 campaign for president already underway, you’re likely to hear people say, “ I do not want a third Bush presidency.” In fact, I have heard this argument made many times now, but it is naive to judge a person by his or her last name. Each individual is his or her own person, with a past and ideas that are uniquely his or her own. It would be ignorant to refuse to even consider the idea of supporting Jeb Bush based on the actions of his brother and father. 

Many of the same people who criticize the Bushes do not know a thing about Jeb Bush besides the fact that he’s the son and brother of former U.S. presidents. Many UT students may not know that Jeb Bush actually graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UT with a B.A. in Latin American Studies in just two-and-a-half years. If elected president, he would be the first UT alumnus to become president.

Even though Jeb Bush served as governor of Florida, he has substantial ties to Texas, from being born in Midland to growing up in Houston and attending UT. While some may argue that he cannot win the Republican primary, I would argue he is actually the front-runner.

Generally, at least in recent years, the establishment Republican candidate has won the primary (i.e. Romney in 2012, McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2000). I believe there are two main reasons for this.

First, there are simply more mainstream (establishment-supporting) Republicans than tea party or tea party-type Republicans. Polls have shown that the tea party is the minority in the Republican Party — only two in 10 Republicans self-identify as very conservative, according to Gallup.

Second, the establishment candidate will be able to raise the necessary sum to win in the primary and general election. A Republican candidate will likely need at least $150 million to win the primary, Ed Rollins, a former Mike Huckabee adviser,  told the Washington Post, and then the general election can cost upward of $1 billion.

Bush can and would likely defeat Hillary Clinton, as long as we realize that Clinton is not invincible, as evidenced by her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama. Not to mention in the last six open-seat presidential races, where a sitting president was not running, the party that held the presidency has only won once.

Interestingly enough, that one lucky man was George H. W. Bush when he succeeded Ronald Reagan. American voters get tired of a single party holding the presidency for a long time, and eight years is a long time for most people.

What may add the younger Bush to that list is that he can appeal to Hispanic voters since he is fluent in Spanish, and his wife Columba is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico.

George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Romney won just 27 percent in 2012. Republicans will need to do a lot better with Hispanic voters to win in 2016, and Jeb Bush is in a very good position to do just that.

What also helps Jeb Bush is that he has a message, and you will know exactly what he stands for. He will likely run as a “reform conservative” focusing on making sure everyone has the right to succeed.

Clinton supporters, on the other hand, can’t say quite as much. To win the general election, there has to be a compelling message, such as Obama’s hope and change or George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Clinton does not have anything like that.

Plus, while Clinton may be sitting pretty out of office, as soon as she comes into the spotlight, the Republican Party’s full attention will be on her. Once the Republicans begin to attack, her favorability ratings will decrease as will her chance of winning the presidency (a repeat of 2008).

All these factors will make it exceedingly difficult for Clinton to win 2016 and will give Jeb Bush the upper hand.

Hung is a first-year law student from Brownsville.

Greg Abbott, attorney general and governor-elect, challenged President Barack Obama’s immigration order on Wednesday, saying he stepped out of his bounds.

Abbott issued a statement on Wednesday after filing a lawsuit with 17 other states – including the states of Texas, Alabama, and Wisconsin – claiming that the president’s executive order violated the Constitution’s Take Care Clause, which mandates the president “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

“The Constitution's Take Care Clause limits the President's power and ensures that he will faithfully execute Congress's laws – not rewrite them under the guise of ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” Abbott said in his statement. “The Department of Homeland Security's directive was issued without following the Administrative Procedure Act's rulemaking guidelines and is nothing but an unlawfully adopted legislative rule: an executive decree that requires federal agencies to award legal benefits to individuals whose conduct contradicts the priorities of Congress."

Abbott spoke about his lawsuit at a press conference on Wednesday after filing it with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He said Obama’s order differed from those of President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush.

“There was never any legal action that determined the legal validity of what President Bush and President Reagan did,” Abbott said. “But most importantly was what President Bush and President Reagan did; [it] was an effort to fulfill legislation that was passed by Congress. In this instance, President Obama has said he is taking this action because Congress will not act. His own words show he is violating the Take Care Clause. He is trying to enact laws himself because Congress will not act. He does not have that authority.”

The lawsuit clarifies that the issue is not with immigration, but about the “rule of the law.” Abbott repeated this on Wednesday, calling Obama and the Department of Security and other agencies’ subsequent orders unconstitutional and illegal.

“Texas and other states that have joined with us are asking for declarative judgment and conjunctive relief,” Abbott said. “We are asking the president to go through the prescribed constitutional process rather than making them up himself.”

The defendants of the case have already acknowledged the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and federal government’s failure in enforcing the laws, as well as the consequence of Obama’s executive order, Abbott said.

 “As the defendants have acknowledged themselves, Texas will suffer as a consequence of this most recent presidential order,” Abbott said.

Texas and the other states that joined the lawsuit have a strong case, Abbott said. He referenced the Supreme Court case of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, and said the outcome of that case proved Texas’s valid suit.

“If you look at the Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. the EPA, the Supreme Court granted standing to Massachusetts,” Abbott said. “A doctrine called parens patriae [said] under damages that the people of Massachusetts may suffer from global warming. I will submit to you that the standing of Texas is far stronger than what the Supreme Court granted to Massachusetts in that case.”

An Iraqi soldier stands guard as security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb attack in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The Daily Texan recently published a piece by fellow UT student Dolph Briscoe IV which argued that the U.S. must “avoid becoming trapped in another dangerous war in the Middle East.” This mentality is pervasive in the liberal corporate media, with the New York Times editorial board praising Obama for his cautious “balancing act on Iraq.” There are three major problems with this conception.

The first is that the liberals completely misunderstand the roots of Iraq’s current crisis, which is the past 10 years of U.S. imperialism in Iraq (under both former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama). It is now widely acknowledged that every single argument the Bush administration made for invading Iraq was false: Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq and Iraqis did not greet the U.S. military as a liberator but instead resisted it as an occupying force. However, Briscoe is wrong in stating that the Bush administration’s goal was “establishing a democracy in Iraq.” The leaked 2002 Downing Street Memo, a UK intelligence document, stated that “military action [in Iraq] was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." So the Bush administration intentionally lied to Americans and the world, an undemocratic action whose end goal certainly was not democracy. In fact, it was control over oil.

Following the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. set up the Coalition Provisional Authority to govern the country, and within a few months privatized the Iraqi economy with Order 39. This allowed foreign investors and international financial institutions to buy out Iraqi enterprises, including its massive oil reserves and keep 100 percent of the profit. Strategic control over Iraqi oil had been a goal of the U.S. foreign policy establishment for over a decade even before Bush - the Clinton administration kept Hussein’s regime in check with deadly sanctions against Iraq. The neoconservatives had been pushing for regime change since the late ‘90s and got their chance during the Bush administration after 9/11. So U.S. imperialism in Iraq has been and continues to be a bipartisan project.

However, the neoconservatives underestimated the will of Iraqis to fight back against this wrecking of their economy and the U.S. military’s brutal violence during the occupation. The U.S. invasion precipitated a massive Iraqi resistance across Sunni and Shia lines. As Iraqi journalist Sami Ramadani explains, there is a “powerful secular tradition in Iraq that transcends all religions and sects,” and this led to “millions of Iraqis - of all sects and none - [marching] in the streets, denouncing the occupation.” In response to this, the U.S. (and its later client-state under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki) implemented sectarian policies that led to today’s divided Iraq.

This leads to the second problem, which is that rather than acknowledge the sectarian legacy of imperialism, the liberals (and neoconservatives) instead substitute Islamophobic logic. According to Briscoe, yet another “crisis plagues the Middle East” with no offered cause or context – according to the New York Times, the crisis is due to “Islam’s ancient sectarian rift.” In reality, the sectarian rift’s origins can be concretely located in the 2005 Iraqi Constitution, in which occupation authorities forced provisions that split Iraq’s governing structure along ethnic and religious lines, as part of the U.S.’s divide-and-rule strategy to control the flow of oil. As journalist Phyllis Bennis explained at that time, the lack of oil in Sunni areas “[insured] a future of impoverishment for the Sunni, secular and inter-mixed populations of Baghdad and Iraq’s center, and [set] the stage for a future of ethnic and religious strife.”

Briscoe correctly notes that these sectarian policies continued under Maliki, but its crimes are far greater than simply “[refusing] to bring Sunni Muslims into [the] government.” Before the rise to prominence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there were mass Sunni petitions and protests against this sectarianism - Maliki’s response was to escalate to violence, ultimately attacking protest camps and killing protesters. More importantly, Briscoe fails to mention that Maliki was supported by the U.S. from the beginning as a client-state. Even with the supposedly liberal President Obama, this relationship continued for reasons that Maliki himself explained: Iraq has the “world’s fifth-largest proven crude oil reserves,” and in 2012, it “surpassed Iran to become OPEC’s second largest producer of crude oil.” Thus, as with the “Arab Spring” in Bahrain and Egypt, the Obama administration was allied with the oppressive state and against the calls for democracy. To understand Iraq’s current crisis, this history must be acknowledged: ISIS and its violent methods only became relevant after the U.S. implemented sectarian policies and its client-state militarized the conflict.

Failure to acknowledge the backdrop of U.S. imperialism leads to the third problem, which is that the liberals’ misconceptions are deadly – this can be seen in the current Israeli siege of Gaza. First, the imperial context: In 1967, Israel proved its worth to U.S. geopolitical strategy by, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “[destroying] the source of secular Arab nationalism – Nasser’s Egypt,” considered a major threat because “it might seek to take control of the immense resources of the region and use them for regional interest, rather than allow them to be centrally controlled and exploited by the United States.” Since then, Israel has been a key stronghold for U.S. geopolitics.

So despite the lopsided destruction that Israel has unleashed on Palestinians, the Obama administration continues to support Israel’s military operations and falsely equates the Israeli and Palestinian death tolls. When the UN Human Rights Council voted on July 23 to open inquiry into war crimes in Gaza, the U.S. was the only country to vote “no.” In lockstep, the New York Times squarely blames Hamas’s comparatively minimal violence for Israel’s brutality and also falsely equates the violence against civilians “on both sides of the border.” Similarly, Briscoe states that Israel is simply responding “in kind” to Hamas rockets.

However, Israel’s relentless destruction of Gaza and the lopsided death toll are becoming increasingly hard for reporters to deny, even in the liberal corporate media. NBC News pulled veteran correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from Gaza after he reported on the murder of four young boys playing soccer on a Gaza beach by Israeli gunboats. Mohyeldin was returned to Gaza only after public uproar. MSNBC fired contributor Rula Jebreal after her on-air protest of the network’s slanted coverage, such as having “90 percent Israeli guests and 10 percent Palestinians.” The facts in Gaza clearly support Mohyeldin’s and Jebreal’s outrage: Israel’s bombing and invasion have overwhelmingly killed children and other civilians, with likely war crimes including the bombing of hospitals, other medical facilities, mosques, schools, and Gaza’s sole power plant. Despite rhetorical flourishes by the New York Times about “bombardments … of Israeli population centers,” Hamas, a democratically elected governing organization of Gaza, has committed violence with comparatively minimal civilian casualties and damage. This says less about the atrocities that Hamas has committed and more about the scale of Israeli brutality. In either case, Obama’s defense of Israel is rhetorically on the grounds that “no nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders” – if the liberals actually agree with this on principle, they should fully support the Palestinians’ right to resistance.

Rathi is a computer science honors junior from Austin.

The Civil Rights Summit, held on the UT campus last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1964’s Civil Rights Act, certainly made history. Three former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, all joined President Barack Obama in Austin to commemorate the occasion, each one delivering a keynote address through the week — an unprecedented occurrence. 

But, though the summit was historic, students must think critically about the presidents’ words and the actions behind them because the issues at stake deserve more than just empty political rhetoric. 

The first president to speak, Jimmy Carter, addressed the prevalence of sexual abuse on college campuses. “In this country, we are not above — I hate to say condemnation — but we are not above reproach. The number one place for sexual abuse is the United States universities,” the former president said. Unlike the other keynote speakers, Carter moved past pure rhetoric to suggest a solution to the issue: The Title IX clause that allows federal funds to be withheld from universities if administrators fail to address sexual assault cases should be invoked to help address the problem.

Clinton, too, spoke on a controversial topic, using his keynote address to talk about the aftermath of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The court’s ruling allowed several states to change election laws without federal approval, and, as a result, many southern states passed laws requiring voters to show photo ID to cast a ballot. Clinton chided state governments for using the court’s ruling to restrict suffrage by passing such laws. “We all know what this is about.” Clinton said. “This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it. Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for?”

Considering Texas is one of the handful of states that require voters to present photo identification, Clinton’s words were bold. 

But not all the speakers at the summit used the bully pulpit to address sensitive issues with frankness and candour. Rather, both Bush and Obama stuck to speaking about past accomplishments and legislation, barely touching on the challenges that lie ahead. 

Bush talked mostly about education — an important topic, but one that constitutes much less of a hot button issue. He reminded Texans of the No Child Left Behind Act, a piece of legislation he announced in 2001 that increased reliance on standardized measurements for school accountability, especially regarding reading proficiency for younger children. Bush did do some justice to addressing inequality in public education, pointing out that “education in America is no longer legally separate, but it is still not effectively equal.” 

Obama, too, addressed disappointingly little of the modern issues concerning civil rights. Although perhaps the most anticipated speaker at the three-day summit, Obama did little to further any specific civil rights issues when he took the stage. Instead, in his characteristic manner, he spoke with eloquence, poise, and measured enthusiasm about things we already knew were true. The most we could take from Obama’s speech was his eloquent praise of LBJ, which, while meaningful, should not have been an end in itself. The lack of substance in Obama’s speech raises the question: Was the summit even productive beyond its celebratory flourishes?

Professor Edwin Dorn, a former Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, thinks the answer to that question lies in what happens next. He asks whether, in light of the summit, the University “will make a bigger investment in teaching and research about civil rights, immigration policy and voting rights … [because] right now, we are weak in all three areas. For example, only one UT faculty member is an expert on voting rights.”

Gregory Vincent, the vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, offered a slightly different view. He thought that listening to the “perspectives of national leaders in public policy, politics, business and activism yielded fruitful dialogues about social justice” and that the summit’s “real success was inspiring us to carry the conversation of civil rights forward and consider how those rights are being negotiated by different groups today.”

But while we should appreciate the more celebratory aspects of the summit, calling the conference a success does a disservice to the spirit of LBJ, a president who passed not one but many pieces of landmark civil rights legislation on voting rights, housing equality and Medicare, to name a few. But, instead of focusing on meaningful change, as Johnson’s landmark legislation did, this summit focused on rhetoric. When it comes to discussing civil rights, impassioned rhetoric can fall short; working to change the status quo is better. Change doesn’t come quickly, but there is certainly room for progress at UT. Even UT President William Powers Jr. admitted that UT has historically found itself on the “wrong side” of the civil rights argument. 

In the final speech of his presidency, Johnson told a roaring crowd, “we have proved that progress is possible.” Johnson earned the right to say those words, and, when we as a school, or even as a nation, can come to terms with the civil rights issues of our generation — the difficulty of immigration and nationalization, the prevalence of sexual assault and the lack of equal treatment in the LBGTQ community, to name just a few — only then can we see events such as the Civil Rights Summit as successful. While that’s a high standard with which to measure success, it only reflects the nature of the task ahead. 

Civil Rights Summit

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

In his speech Thursday night at the Civil Rights Summit, former President George W. Bush led with a joke that was, in the Johnsonian tradition, somewhat off-color.

“Former presidents compare their libraries the way other men compare their ... well ...,” Bush said before tailing off.

After the laughter died down, Bush focused primarily on education as both a battleground and driver of civil rights progress.

“From Little Rock Central High School to the University of Mississippi, the fight for civil rights took place in educational settings,” Bush said. “Education provides the skills necessary to expand horizons and allow for economic success. In so doing, we secure our democratic way of life.”

In 2001, three days after taking office, Bush announced the No Child Left Behind Act to reform the national education system. The act increased reliance on standardized measurements for school accountability, especially regarding reading proficiency for younger children. Bush praised the act as an example of good bipartisan government.

“We found common ground that schools must demonstrate improving results in minority children or face consequences if they don’t,” Bush said.

Zach Berberich, finance junior and College Republicans communication director, said the act was one of Bush’s greatest civil rights achievements. 

“I feel that his strides were a huge step for children of all races to get a quality education and an equal way to measure performance,” Berberich said.

According to Bush, between 1999 and 2008, reading scores for African-American and Hispanic 9-year-olds increased by two grade levels.

“Education in America is no longer legally separate, but it is still not effectively equal,” Bush said. “Quality education for everyone of every background remains the most urgent civil rights issue of our time.”

Bush also argued that changing the fact that the average reading score for 13-year-old white students was the same as those of 17-year-old African-Americans should be a national priority.

“In a nation dedicated to equal opportunity, that’s scandalous,” Bush said. “This should be a national scandal demanding action.”

Bush’s speech did not include other civil rights issues that had been discussed during the three-day-long event, such as women’s rights, voting restrictions, immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

Marketing junior Marisa Kent, Queer Students Alliance president, said Bush’s call on states to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a strictly heterosexual union in 2004 was disappointing to the queer community. Michelle Willoughby, government and Plan II sophomore and University Democrats communication director, said her organization also took issue with Bush’s policies opposing same-sex marriage.

“That’s one very clear example of a way Bush did not further civil rights,” Willoughby said.

Berberich said Bush’s views on gay marriage should not be relevant to his presidency, and the government shouldn’t be involved in that decision.

“He’s in line with the Republican Party belief with upholding the traditional view of marriage,” Berberich said. “Whether or not they agree with gay marriage isn’t really relevant.”

Bush said that continued progress must be made on civil rights to truly continue the legacies of Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Some are too comfortable with the status quo,” Bush said. “For the sake of America’s children, that is something we cannot allow.”

Additional reporting by Leila Ruiz

During the years George W. Bush was president, socially conservative state and national policies related to same-sex marriage and public school integration drove most on-campus discussions of civil rights. In the case of Parents Involved v. Seattle School District, the district claimed it was bussing students to schools outside their residential zones in order to further integration. The case made its way to the Supreme Court in 2007, with the Roberts-led court ruling with the parents of the schoolchildren that assignments based on race are still discriminatory even in the interest of desegregating schools. 

“[The Parents decision] certainly is a reflection of Bush’s appointees,” assistant law professor Joseph Fishkin said. “I’d say the most impactful legacy of the Bush administration was replacing [Sandra Day] O’Connor with [Samuel] Alito.”

According to Fishkin, one of the most important civil rights issues in the first decade of the 21st century was the rise of judiciary enforcement regarding integration. The courts, as opposed to Congress, were at the forefront of racial integration in schools, causing individual people to be held responsible for inclusion.

Nicole Barragan, Spanish and public relations alum, said she didn’t notice much controversy regarding racial integration while she was a student at the University during Bush’s presidency.

In 2003, the Bush administration passed legislation barring federal agents from using race or ethnicity in routine investigations, though the policy conspicuously omitted investigations involving terrorism and national security matters. “Austin was, and is, such a liberal city, so I don’t feel like there was anyone discriminated against,” Barragan said.

In 2004, Bush called on states to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as a strictly heterosexual union. Bush said his push to amend was because of his belief that “marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.”

Some political commentators saw Bush’s appeal to the states as a deliberate move to bypass, or perhaps undermine, Congress, but Fishkin said he doesn’t think that is necessarily the case.

“[The court] could see that over time, the general public was turning away, and the trajectory showed that most young people favored marriage equality,” Fishkin said. 

Although student inclusion was not a particularly divisive topic at the University, awareness was not lacking among the UT population. According to Reid Long, chemistry doctorate alum and former UT Senate member, the Queer Students Alliance released a report on gay and trans issues on campus around the same time.

Long said he recalls a Student Government resolution filed in 2007 in support of domestic partner benefits. The resolution, according to Long, was most likely passed in response to a changing social climate after Texas’ ban on gay marriage in 2005.

 

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, lawsuits brought by the Civil Rights Division to enforce laws prohibiting race or sex discrimination in employment fell from about 11 per year under the Clinton administration to about six per year under the Bush administration. “It was a hallmark study for that particular group in regards to campus climate,” Long said.

Regardless of national issues, on-campus policies became increasingly aimed at better representing the diverse student population. According to Long, for example, many of the applications for student leadership organizations were amended to be more inclusive to minority students.

“As far as I know, they still do their applications the same way,” Long said. “I always thought the campus was pretty good about handling things like that.”

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

The media often portrayed President George W. Bush as Vice President Dick Cheney’s figurehead, but their relationship was far more complex and conflict-riddled than the public realized, according to Peter Baker, New York Times White House correspondent. 

Baker promoted his recently released book, “Days of Fire,” which details the Bush-Cheney relationship during their eight years in the White House, at the inaugural event of the William P. Clements Jr. Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft on Thursday. Following the talk, Baker signed books for event attendees. 

Baker said he wanted to write the book to reexamine the events of the Bush presidency, which he said were often glossed over immediately following the highlighting events of the Bush presidency.

“Journalists who cover events in the moment get 10 percent of it. We get the essential truth, but we miss so much more,” Baker said. “Only in the venture of reexamining, re-reporting, you start to fill in the picture.”

Baker said Cheney only became an influential vice president because Bush confided in him and allowed him to be.

“It was based in reality that Cheney was one of the most influential vice presidents in office, but he was never the guy wanting things,” Baker said. “He was like-minded with President Bush, who invested in [Cheney’s] trust, authority and access to give him opportunities to become an influential vice president.”

Though Bush and Cheney saw eye-to-eye during the first term, Baker said, they began drifting apart after years into the Iraqi war.

“Vice President Cheney was focused single-mindedly on the danger the country was in after 9/11,” Baker said. “That became his North Star. [Bush] begins to try to build a sustainable policy that will last beyond his presidency. Cheney thought these were mistakes, that he was compromising too much.”

Tawheeda Wahabzada, first year global policy studies graduate student, said she remembers little about the Bush presidency, but she would like to revisit the time period to gain insight into the politics and dynamics of Bush and Cheney.

“I’ve always perceived in the past — maybe because of the media — Cheney was the driving force and controlling everything,” Wahabzada said. “But hearing about the vast differences between Cheney and Bush and their disagreements on so many issues surprised me.”

Jacqueline Chandler, program manager of the Clements Center, said Baker’s close ties with the White House make him an important source for information about past and current presidencies.

“Anything you can learn about a past presidency is a hot topic,” Chandler said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has been secretly collecting the telephonerecords of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top secret court order, according to the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration defended the National Security Agency's need to collect telephonerecords of U.S. citizens, but critics said it was a huge over-reach.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Thursday that the top secret court order for telephone records is a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice. She spoke to reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference.

The sweeping roundup of U.S. phone records has been going on for years and was a key part of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The White House offered no immediate on-the-record comment. A senior administration official did not confirm the Guardian newspaper report that the NSA has been collecting the records, but the authenticity of the document was not disputed by the White House. The administration official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly by name.

The order was granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 and is good until July 19, the Guardian reported. The order requires Verizon, one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies, on an "ongoing, daily basis," to give the NSA information on all landline and mobile telephone calls of Verizon Business in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

The newspaper said the document, a copy of which it had obtained, shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk, regardless of whether the people are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The disclosure raised a number of questions: What was the government looking for? Were other big telephone companies under similar orders to turn over information? How was the information used?

Former Vice President Al Gore tweeted that privacy was essential in the digital era.

"Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?" wrote Gore, the Democrat who lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the Obama administration should disclose the facts.

"I think that they have an obligation to respond immediately," said Wyden, a frequent critic of government actions dealing with Americans' privacy.

Under Bush, the National Security Agency built a highly classified wiretapping program to monitor emails and phone calls worldwide. The full details of that program remain unknown, but one aspect was to monitor massive numbers of incoming and outgoing U.S. calls to look for suspicious patterns, said an official familiar with the program. That official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

After The New York Times revealed the existence of that wiretapping program, the roundup continued under authority granted in the USA Patriot Act, the official said.

The official did not know if the program was continuous or whether it stopped and restarted at times.

The official had not seen the court order released by the Guardian newspaper but said it was consistent with similar authorizations the Justice Department has received.

Verizon spokesman Ed McFadden said Wednesday the company had no comment.

The NSA had no immediate comment. The agency is sensitive to perceptions that it might be spying on Americans. In a brochure it distributes, which includes a DVD for reporters to view video that it provides for public relations purposes, it pledges that the agency "is unwavering in its respect for U.S. laws and Americans' civil liberties — and its commitment to accountability," and says, "Earning the American public's trust is paramount."

Verizon Communications Inc. listed 121 million customers in its first-quarter earnings report this April — 98.9 million wireless customers, 11.7 million residential phonelines and about 10 million commercial lines. The court order didn't specify which customers' records were being tracked.

Under the terms of the order, the phone numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as are location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered, The Guardian said.

The administration official said, "On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone's telephone calls."

The broad, unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is unusual. FISA court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets. NSA warrantless wiretapping during the George W. Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks was very controversial.

The FISA court order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compelled Verizon to provide the NSA with electronic copies of "all call detail records or telephony metadata created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad" or "wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls," The Guardian said.

The law on which the order explicitly relies is the "business records" provision of the USA Patriot Act.

Rick Perry has been governor of Texas longer than Vladimir Putin has been president of Russia. When Perry was first sworn in, most UT seniors were 10 or 11 years old. The nation had just survived Bush v. Gore, if you can remember that far back. 

“Gov. Perry has always said that Texas voters are the best determiners of how long they want an individual to serve in office,” Josh Havens, deputy press secretary in the governor’s office, said in an email.

A majority of the members of the Texas Senate, however, appear to disagree. Specifically, they don’t want to allow some statewide Texas officeholders, including governors, to be eligible to seek election for three consecutive terms.

On March 19, the Senators voted 27-4 to pass Senate Joint Resolution 13, legislation which, if the House passes a similar measure, proposes to Texas voters a constitutional amendment limiting some statewide elected officials, including governors, to two consecutive terms in office.

Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, who sponsored the bill, said in an email response, “I have always believed term limits are good public policy. With term limits you have more open seats, which brings more debate and fresh ideas to the political process. I believe someone should serve in office for a limited amount of time and return to the private sector or seek a different public office. The majority of states have term limits on their governor and lieutenant governor offices. I did not file the bill due to any of our current statewide officials. I filed it because I believe it is in the best interest of our state.” He addressed Gov. Perry’s position about voters making decisions, writing, “In my opinion it is important to let the voters have a say on term limits. The Legislature is not ordering term limits; we are allowing the voters of Texas to decide if they want term limits.”

If voters choose to add the proposed term limit amendment to the Texas Constitution, however, Perry won’t face immediate ouster or even any barrier to running for another term. Instead, the Senate resolution calls for the governor to be “grandfathered” into the term-limits so only future terms he pursues would be counted against his two-term limit.

That means that under the proposed amendment, Perry would be allowed to seek two additional terms. That’s right: Perry, Texas governor for a total of five terms spanning two decades. That’s not counting the two additional years that Perry, previously lieutenant governor, spent as governor after George W. Bush left Texas for the White House in 2000.

Eltife denies he authored the legislation to target Perry. “No way, shape or form it has anything to do with Rick Perry. I just think government is better served with term limits,” Eltife said in an interview published in the San Antonio Express News. The same article quotes Rice University political science professor Mark Jones, who referenced the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms elected to the Oval Office. Jones says that political longevity inspired the U.S. Congress to pass the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, limiting subsequent U.S. presidents to two terms. “Just as FDR’s unprecedented tenure in office helped generate support for a two-term limit for the U.S. president, Perry’s equally unprecedented tenure has bolstered the efforts of term limits advocates in Texas,” Jones told the Express News.

Twenty-two years of Perry is scary. The state has already suffered enough. Perhaps not compared to the rest of the nation in terms of the economy — thanks largely to a local oil and gas boom that coincided with the global recession — but consider the missed opportunities that resulted from Perry’s grandstanding for political points to Texans’ health care, higher education and road safety. Fewer women and low-income Texans have health coverage because of his decisions. Texas public university students have good reason to wonder if their regents, whom he appointed to oversee their respective schools, got those jobs because they would be good at them or because they were good at donating to Perry’s campaigns. Texans take their lives into their hands every time they drive on state roads, which they must share with those who text behind the wheel, thanks to the governor’s veto of a ban on texting while driving. When we think about it, a single term more for Perry is one too many.

Last Friday, after a hacker broke into the email account of former President George W. Bush’s sister Dorothy, correspondence belonging to the Bush family went viral — most notably, images of President Bush’s paintings of himself, disrobed and in the shower.

One painting shows the president’s apparently muscular back as he gazes in a mirror in the shower; another displays his outstretched legs in a bathtub. They are almost as unskillful as they are awkward. I doubt I would be any better at painting a nude of myself, but then again, that’s why I don’t try. I would be even more reluctant to produce such a painting — not to mention unleash the beast onto the Internet — if someone accused me of being “the leader of the free world.”

Millions, including myself, delighted in mocking yet another of Bush’s clumsy gaffes — not because we particularly care about how he performs at his hobbies, but because it is kind of fun to catch powerful people in embarrassing moments.

When she was informed of the leaked emails, Dorothy Bush could only respond, “Why would someone do this?”

That’s a good question, and one that many Americans asked of the Bush administration after President Bush admitted that the National Security Agency had been engaging in unconstitutional, warrantless wiretaps. For years, federal agents monitored the telephone calls, emails and text messages of American citizens without any legal justification. None of those citizens could demand a Secret Service investigation, because the Bush administration’s suspension of basic civil liberties rendered every American a suspect, not a victim.

The Bush family’s hacked images and emails were popular on Facebook and Twitter for a few days. But an event that could have been used to reinvigorate a discussion of invasive security measures devolved into a fodder for short-lived entertainment.

America enjoys the fall of its icons. Even if we hide behind the guise of disappointment and moral superiority, we love to watch scandals unfold. The vast majority of the population has had no vested interest in Lance Armstrong’s career, but 28 million of us watched Oprah’s most recent interview, captivated by stories of syringes dumped in Coke cans.

I am not particularly interested in shaming anyone for rubbernecking. However, an obsession with scandal can become a problem when it takes precedence over enforcing high expectations for our leaders.

Last November, then-CIA Director David Petraeus announced that he was resigning because he had engaged in an extramarital affair. Colleagues and government officials, including President Barack Obama, emphasized that they were shocked and saddened by the news. For a week, newspapers ran profiles of his former mistress Paula Broadwell and revealed details about the “steamy romance.”

The media scandal died down, and the most reprehensible consequences of Petraeus’ departure are receiving far less national attention. Last Thursday, John Brennan’s confirmation hearing for the CIA director position commenced. Brennan, a UT graduate and the current Homeland Security Advisor, is one of the driving forces behind the Obama administration’s increasingly aggressive drone program, which has killed hundreds of innocent civilians abroad, including children. Petraeus’ consensual relationship with an adult is a career-ending scandal, but replacing him with a leader in favor of high-tech mass killings is business as usual.

Also last week, Obama released a memo detailing the total authority the White House has over American lives. The previously classified document provides a justification for targeted drone strikes against individuals, including Americans, suspected of terrorist activity.

The memo serves as the justification for the drone strike against American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was suspected of working with al-Qaida. It may also have been the document that gave the government authority to kill al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, a 16-year-old American citizen with no concrete ties to any terrorist organization. The minor was killed in a drone strike at a café in Yemen two weeks after his father’s death.

If Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s case and the recent memo are any indication of the Obama administration’s stance toward security, American citizens can be executed without warning or trial simply by knowing — or being born to — the wrong people.

Nonetheless, The Daily Texan didn’t even publish a news article regarding the groundbreaking announcement. The paper has published five articles on UT assistant football coach Major Applewhite’s “inappropriate relationships” and three on the Lance Armstrong scandal since the beginning of 2013.

I enjoy news about embarrassing celebrity moments as much as the next person, because we could all use a reminder that the idols we glorify are fallible. But we should use that reminder to stop putting leaders on pedestals and instead hold them accountable.

The most atrocious scandals are not uncovered through email exchanges or leaked photos: They are codified into our laws and upheld by our institutions. There is a distinction between being a voyeur and being an engaged citizen. Egalitarian democracies rely on recognizing the difference.

San Luis is a Plan II, English and women’s and gender studies senior from Buda.