January 17, 2006


What Reason Do We Have to Trust the State to Know Best? (Christopher Hitchens, 1/16/06, Huffington Post)

Although I am named in this suit in my own behalf, I am motivated to join it by concerns well beyond my own. I have been frankly appalled by the discrepant and contradictory positions taken by the Administration in this matter. First, the entire existence of the NSA's monitoring was a secret, and its very disclosure denounced as a threat to national security.

Then it was argued that Congress had already implicitly granted the power to conduct warrantless surveillance on the territory of the United States, which seemed to make the reason for the original secrecy more rather than less mysterious. (I think we may take it for granted that our deadly enemies understand that their communications may be intercepted.)

It now appears that Congress may have granted this authority, but without quite knowing that it had, and certainly without knowing the extent of it.

This makes it critically important that we establish an understood line, and test the cases in which it may or may not be crossed.

If the intelligence agencies haven't been monitoring Mr. Hitchens since he arrived on these shores, seeking to undermine America and support the Soviet Union in the Cold War, then they aren't doing their jobs. But it's interesting to note that his argument isn't that we shouldn't be monitoring these conversations but that we shouldn't be offering varied rationales about why and how we are. It's the contradictions, not the clandestine.... Of course, he then rolls right into his own contradictions--"our deadly enemies" know that we'll try to intercept their communications so we should have told them we were doing so and, oh, by the way, we shouldn't have been doing so unless Congress said to, which it did, but it didn't mean it....blah, blah, blah....

No, Mr. Walzer, there can't be a Decent Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2006 9:36 PM

So our enemeies knew the extent of the program better than Congress did?

I move that only those innocent people who were somehow harmed by this should sue.

Posted by: RC at January 18, 2006 12:21 AM

I would imagine that past and remaining sympathizers for Communism are subconciously experiencing icy pangs in contemplation of what might have been for them, or for the "Red Diaper Babies", their parents, had the technology and will to use it existed in the McCarthy era. It seems they protesteth a bit too loudly on this one, considering the circumstances.

Posted by: Genecis at January 18, 2006 10:13 AM

The Brothers appear on all kinds of FBI lists because our Dad was a liberal clergyman in the 60s and dragged us to camps and whatnot the feds were watching.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 10:17 AM

Right. Recall that The Nixon people had been wiretapping the Watergate in the hope of finding evidence that those people had been accepting campaign money from unfriendly foreign powers.

Of course the very idea was dismissed as crazy Nixon paranoia. The Democrat party would never do such a thing. So when they more recently got caught taking Chicom money laundered through a Bhuddist monastery and had to give it back, well, that was just an oversight.

Too many Democrats have behaved like enemy agents with respect to places like North Vietnam and Nicaraugua for a reasonable person not to be at least interested in knowing about their foreign connections. We have the pictures of Hanoi John setting down with his North Vietnamese handlers, but we should like to know more.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2006 10:35 AM