Saturday, December 31, 2005

Calling their Bluff

Over at Townhall, Tony Snow has excellent advice for the President: "Call their Bluff." He reckons that forcing a vote ought to flesh out the propriety of the NSA international wiretaps once and for all.

Note who has not spoken against the NSA program since the Times story broke. The list includes Harry Reid and Dick Durbin in the Senate; Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer in the House; and members of both intelligence committees. In other words, Democrats in the know either have supported the surveillance program or just kept their mouths shut. A straightforward vote would shut up the rest, highlighting vividly the gulf that separates a president responsible for national security from critics responsible to nobody.

Commenter "Hyman Roth" begs to differ and asks:

The president does and should have increased powers in times of war, but do you really think the "war" on terrorism qualifies as a real war?

Let's see if we can figure this one out.

1) Has the enemy launched a massive surprise attack on the scale of Pearl Harbor? Check.
2) Has the enemy has promised to kill four million Americans, including "two million children"? Checkety-check.
3) Has the enemy repeatedly tried to acquire nuclear, chemical and/or biological weapons? Check and mate, bezatch.

Do the math, "Hyman". That is, if adding one and one together won't tax your noggin.

Ms. Coulter, in a highly entertaining column, also savages the Times for its NSA reporting, using everything but a taser and a cattle prod. The money quotes:

After 9-11, any president who was not spying on people calling phone numbers associated with terrorists should be impeached for being an inept commander in chief...

...Either we take the politically correct, scattershot approach and violate everyone's civil liberties, or we focus on the group threatening us and ...worst-case... - run the risk of briefly violating the civil liberties of 1,000 [out of] 300 million.

...In the Democrats' world, there are two more options. Violate no one's civil liberties and get used to a lot more 9-11s, or the modified third option, preferred by Sen. John D. Rockefeller: Let the president do all the work and take all the heat for preventing another terrorist attack while you place a letter expressing your objections in a file cabinet as a small parchment tribute to your exquisite conscience.

Jay Rockefeller's public display of CYA behavior is as weak-minded as it is disenguous. Why lock up a circumspect memo, when he could simply register a formal complaint with the Attorney General -- who was fully aware of this particular program? Oh, that's right, because there would be no political hay to be made with a practice the AG had already ruled legal.

And, despite the breathless reporting of the Times regarding the legality of the NSA intercepts, one need only check their archives to find this news report dated November 7, 1982:

A federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents.

Would that the Times could even bother to check their own microfiche.

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