OT - Bothered by the NSA story (Tucker Carlson)
- From: "Mr Soul" <google@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 22 Dec 2005 12:54:06 -0800
Once again Tucker comes up with a different angle -
The argument for allowing the National Security Agency to spy on
Americans is simple: It works. According to the New York Times, the
federal government was able to disrupt a terror plot aimed at the
Brooklyn Bridge by using information gleaned from intercepted phone
calls that originated in the United States.
Domestic surveillance saves lives. That's the administration's
position. Most Americans seem to agree.
I'm not entirely sold. I'm as against terrorism as anyone. And I think
most of the criticism you hear from civil libertarians about the
administration's handling of the war on terror is overblown. Bush may
be a bad president, but this isn't a police state, not even close. (To
claim otherwise is to insult the world's many genuine police states.)
But I'm still bothered by the NSA story. Here's why:
Why didn't the Administration bother to get warrants for the
wiretapping? Bush's aides claim there wasn't time; the terror threats
were so pressing, bureaucratic niceties could have been dangerous.
Sounds good, except that the 1978 law that governs federal
eavesdropping allows the government to apply for a warrant after the
wiretap has already been conducted. So that's not a serious excuse.
The real reason is that the White House decided it didn't have to ask
permission to wiretap. Bush's lawyers concluded that as president of a
country at war, he had the constitutional authority to take any steps
necessary to protect the country, regardless of the law.
Bush's lawyers have a point. There are circumstances when the country's
interests take priority over its laws. But by definition such
circumstances are temporary. In the long term -- for instance, in the
four years since 9-11 -- a president either has to obey the laws or
change them. If Bush believes that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act is incompatible with fighting the war on terror, he
should ask Congress to scrap it.
Unfortunately that is not Bush's way. Bush distrusts rhetoric. He hates
to explain and persuade. He'd prefer to decide and delegate. So instead
of taking the time to convince members of Congress -- and for that
matter the public -- that the government needs to start spying on
Americans, he went ahead and did it in secret.
All of which might be fine, for now. There's no evidence the NSA hurt
anyone. But the principle is troubling. Do we really want to empower
the president to ignore Congress, our most democratic institution?
Bush's defenders aren't bothered by the idea because they trust Bush.
But Bush won't be in office forever.
Will they feel the same way when Hillary is president?
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