I’m mostly on vacation this week, cramming in as many movies as possible. My semi- review of Brokeback Mountain, which I saw Monday night, will be written and posted sometime in the next few days.
Meanwhile, the Bush/NSA spying story continues to fascinate me. I’m not at all surprised by the facts. This sort of abuse is something I’ve come to expect from Big Government. But I do confess to a certain naivetÃ© about the reaction I had expected.
I applaud former Congressman Bob Barr’s principled, small-c-conservative stand against the President arrogating himself absolute power. Naively, I suppose, I expected many more conservatives to join in the criticism of a President who clearly and unquestionably breached all constitutional and legal safeguards.Bush’s stated rationale for spying without any oversight by the courts– that this unchecked power was implicitly granted by the 2002 congressional vote to authorize war in Iraq—is absolutely preposterous. And equally dishonest, I might add.
When former Congressman Barr, who voted for the authorization, was asked whether Congress intended to approve this type of unaccountable surveillance of private citizens, Barr said no way. He added: “And Constitutional law and the rules of what’s called statutory construction in this country clearly do not support the arguments that the administration is making.” Translation: Bush is bullshitting us.Just as false is the notion that the Senate Intelligence Committee was fully folded into the process by the administration. Now we know, back in 2003 Senator Jay Rockefeller wrote a private letter to Dick Cheney saying he was given such scant information about this spying program, he could make no honest evaluation.
I’m not ready to venture any guess how this matter is going to play out politically. The administration, in many ways, has shown a certain capacity to defy the partisan laws of gravity. This is all going to depend on to just what degree Americans are willing to have their civil liberties erased by fear.Kevin Drum has about the best round-up of what’s behind the NSA story. It’s not a happy day for rule of law.