Right about now the Bush-allied press is gearing up for a real head-in-the-sandathon regarding Bush's blatantly illegal orders to the NSA to spy on Americans. And unfortunately that portion of the "liberal" press that makes its money by speaking in measured tones and qualified language about absolutely everything is singing from essentially the same hymnal.
The new script is "only crazy people think Bush violated the law." The idea is that there is this arcane law on the books and there are complicated quesions about what it says, and big minds are wrestling with it, etc. If you want the prototype column, Krauthammer helpfully brings it to us today.
In an attempt to assess the valdiity of this new script and determine if in fact the Ape Man is crazy for thinking Bush obviously violated the law, let's excerpt some key passages from the 1978 law Bush is accused of violating.
TITLE 50 > CHAPTER 36 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 1802
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that—
(A) the electronic surveillance is solely directed at—
(i) the acquisition of the contents of communications transmitted by means of communications used exclusively between or among foreign powers, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title; or
(ii) the acquisition of technical intelligence, other than the spoken communications of individuals, from property or premises under the open and exclusive control of a foreign power, as defined in section 1801 (a)(1), (2), or (3) of this title;
(B) there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party; and
Let's run through this quickly. The president, through the AG, can authorize warrantless wiretaps. So far so good. Bush is in the clear! But we go on.
The communications intercepted must be exclusively between foreign powers! Well, in this case, the communications were always between a US person and a foreign power, except in a few accidental cases where they were between a US person and another US person. Let's go on further.
The AG must certify that there is "no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a US person is a party." OK, well that's a problem, because in this case of course the wiretaps were explicitly wiretaps of communications to which a US person was a party.
Uncle Kevin was on yesterday alleging that these laws are "dubious." He provided no explanation for what he meant by this, other than that "Congress and the public may not be willing to support them." I'm not sure what evidence there is of that, particularly since Judiciary and Intelligence are already gearing up to hold hearings. There is certainly no evidence at this point that "the public" doesn't support the law, since the story didn't even break long enough ago to do reliable polling.
I'm not sure what to make of this, other than to guess that it's the typical intellectual torpor that seems to afflict the older generation of liberals, and makes them next to useless in any political fight. Everything is ambiguous by definition, so no judgment can ever be rendered and no stand can ever be taken. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding him, but seriously, if you can't draw the line here, you basically have no principles at all.