Though we may be frustrated by their lame-ass political news coverage, somebody at the New York Times is a great editorialist. Go there now and read “The March of the Straw Men.”
President Bush is not giving up the battle over domestic spying. He’s fighting it with an army of straw men and a fleet of red herrings. …
… Let’s be clear: the president and his team had the ability to monitor calls by Qaeda operatives into and out of the United States before 9/11 and got even more authority to do it after the attacks. They never needed to resort to extralegal and probably unconstitutional methods.
Mr. Bush said the warrantless spying was vetted by lawyers in the Justice Department, which is cold comfort. They also endorsed the abuse of prisoners and the indefinite detention of “unlawful enemy combatants” without charges or trials.
The president also said the spying is reviewed by N.S.A. lawyers. That’s nice, but the law was written specifically to bring that agency, and the president, under control. And there already is a branch of government assigned to decide what’s legal. It’s called the judiciary. The law itself is clear: spying on Americans without a warrant is illegal.
One of the oddest moments in Mr. Bush’s defense of domestic spying came when he told his audience in Nashville, “If I was trying to pull a fast one on the American people, why did I brief Congress?” He did not mention that some lawmakers protested the spying at the briefings, or that they found them inadequate. The audience members who laughed and applauded Mr. Bush’s version of the truth may have forgot that he said he briefed Congress fully on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We know how that turned out.
Yep. We do.