Josh Marshall asks this morning:
Here's one thing I'm a bit unclear on in this NSA domestic spying story. From reading the original article in the Times, the prime rationale for this program appears to have been to avoid the time and bureaucratic hurdles involved in getting warrants . . . especially considering the importance of speed in counter-terrorism work. The problem is that the FISA Court -- the secret court set up to handle just such warrant requests -- is designed for speed. And it is known for being extremely indulgent of government applications for warrants . . . All of this, of course, is separate from the issue of the president overruling a federal statute by executive order -- something that by definition a president cannot do. But something seems fishy about the rationale itself.Of course there is.
Anyone who gives this two seconds thought knows that the National Security Agency hasn't spent the last four years monitoring the phone calls of homesick Arab students and their roommates and their landlords.
Remember those stories about John Bolton's abuse of NSA intercepts, when the White House refused to tell the Senate whose phone calls had been recorded, just accidentally-like of course? Tip of the iceberg.
How many phone conversations have Bush's opponents or potential opponents had in the last four years with their mistresses or their lawyers or their bookies or their AA sponsors? Just about everybody has something they don't want to see spread all over the local newspaper.
And are we wondering which 'sensitive' security operations would have been endangered if this operation had been revealed a year ago? How about the ones targetting the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry campaign?
People are wondering why the New York Times held this story for a year before publishing. Two reasons, I think. If the New York Times had published this before the election, it simply would not have been believed -- does anyone remember that a month before the election, when the New York Times revealed that Iraqi arms depots had been stripped of their weapons and then the whole thing was just brushed aside as partisan politics? And then after the election, the Bush administration had the media bamboozled that everybody just loved them, so again, the Times would have backed off the story thinking that no one would believe it.
But now that the Bush administration is down, well, the media can finally kick them. The National Security Agency secret spying story has hit with even more impact than the secret prisons story.
Steve Gilliard writes:
Bush's war on terror has been a failure on most levels.Emphasis mine.
But why break the law?
Because Bush and Cheney think that there would be the magic bullet, that they could torture or violate their way to Osama, and didn't want the law in the way. And enablers like John Yoo were all too eager to help to subvert the law, human decency and common sense.
The short term solution was what Bush wanted. The whole idea behind Gitmo was to round up the truly dangerous, then the secret prisons, then holding Padilla. All short cuts to Osama, they thought. But it wasn't.
The short term solution war on terror will lead to the long term legal fights by its innocent victims.
Now, we're pushing into genuine impeachment territory. NO presidential finding can break the law. Bush seems to think the Constitution is an a la carte menu, when it isn't.
Bush's Divine Right of Kings doctrine is finally turning around and biting him in the ass. I just hope it isn't too late.