December 21, 2005
The Moose doesn't think it's 1984.
imbroglio over the revelation that the government eavesdropped
into the international phone calls of U.S. citizens does not set
the Moose's antlers on fire. The Administration is going to have
to offer a better explanation for why they failed to go to court
to get authorization. And we should also have an inquiry into
a leak that might have endangered national security.
In the aftermath
of 9/11, America learned that it was ill-prepared for this new
threat. Old laws dealing with new technologies were an anachronism.
The "FISA" process, if not the authorization, was often
burdensome and slow with a relatively high standard of proof.
The Administration perhaps should have moved to alter those laws
if they were obstacles to national security.
as of yet, there is no clear evidence that they broke the law.
Lawyers will endlessly debate the legitimacy of the Administration's
citing of the Al Quaeda force resolution for authorization. Moreover,
there was a legitimate concern that an open debate about modifications
in the FISA law could have alerted our enemies that their calls
were detected. And does anyone seriously believe that the targets
of these calls were anyone else than potential security threats?
There is absolutely no evidence that this was a "Nixonian"
enemies list witch hunt.
the controversy is out in the open, Democrats and Republicans
should work together to improve and clarify the law rather than
seeking retribution for past misunderstandings. The bottom line
should be strengthening our national security while maintaining
our liberties to the fullest extent possible.
What we do
know is that we have not suffered another attack on the Homeland
since 9/11. That is a miraculous fact. And President Bush should
be applauded for protecting the country rather than excoriated,
to say nothing of impeachment which is on the lips of some Democrats.
We also know
that, while there have been excesses here and there, our fundamental
freedoms have not been infringed since the first massive assault
on the homeland by foreign enemies since the War of 1812. Certainly,
we have not suffered an abrogation of our liberties anything near
the scale of Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus or FDR's relocation
We are at
war with a Jihadist enemy who wants us and our families dead.
It is not clear that some of our elites recognize that fact or
care any more. And some on the left fear that President Bush is
a greater threat to our nation's security and liberties than the
If the ACLU
is upset about the Patriot Act, fine, It is their job to push
the outside of the envelope. But it is another thing when a Party
almost unanimously obstructs its reauthorization over minor objections
after significant compromises have been achieved. And it does
not provide any solace that Larry Craig and John Sununu were on
the Democrats' side.
When it comes
to the War Against Terror, there is no room for right wing or
left wing libertarianism. Of course, we should guard our freedoms
and be vigilant for excesses. But, our robust democracy is not
endanger. If international phone calls by terrorist suspects were
monitored, good and fine. What is in question is whether some
of our elites continue to believe that we are actually at war
with a devious foe. Memories of 9/11 are fading and many act as
if the threat has gone away.
On the political
front, in the past month, there has been a systematic effort at
self-branding by the Democratic Party, and it is not good. From
the defeatist Iraq talk to the obstruction on the Patriot Act,
the donkey is effectively "rebranding' and "framing"
itself as weak on national security. George Lakoff should be proud!
Rather than the 2006 election being about the GOP' s weak ethics,
it may be about the Democrat's anemic defense credentials.
We live in
a period that is similar to the Cold War in that there is an over-riding
national security threat. The fundamental political and policy
question is which party will the American people trust to defend
the country and their families?