Yesterday morning, on the Imus in the morning radio program, which I listen to along with NPR, switching from one to the other when my tolerance threshold is met, I heard Jonathan Alter, the Editor of Newsweek, who appears every week on the show to dispense liberal shibboleths and offer the conventional wisdom from the elevated heights of the MSM.
[I could not find a full transcript of the program but took these notes from the audio file available at the Imus web site.]
While talking about the NSA leaks to the Washington Post and the New York Times, Alter repeatedly remarked that the President knowingly broke the law and that wire tapping without a subpoena is illegal:
Alter: The "snoopgate" story is a huge story even if it doesn't lead to anyone's indictment, much less impeachment, which is what some of the lefties are talking about.... In terms of its seriousness, it raises the deepest, most important issues of the bounds of power, how much power should the President have in our system.
There was no mention of harming our intelligence agencies ability to "connect the dots", something that those with longer memories than the MSM mifght have recalled was all the rage in the 9/11 Comission hearings. There was no mention of leaks of top secret intelligence being against the law, either, but these are minor quibbles.
In the most revealing exchange, Imus said he would have no problem if he were being listened to but seemed to realize this contravened accepted liberal standards and immediately amended his statement to include that he imagined it could be troubling in terms of the fundamental rights of American citizens.
Alter: I am annoyed because when people raise questions about the President's right to spy on American citizens domestically, the other side makes it seem like the critics are against trying to capture al Qaeda.
Imus then asked Alter if he would care if the President eaves-dropped on him:
Alter responded that he had no problem being eave dropped if there is probable cause that he is in contact with al Qaeda and the government gets a subpoena. He went on to say that the real issue is whether it was legal; he embellished this with the tired charge that Bush is running an Imperial Presidency, acting as if he is above the law and if we allow this monitoring to continue, the McCain amendment outlawing torture will become meaningless, as will any other law the President doesn't like. [Emphasis mine-SW]
This is as clear as it is gets. It reveals several things about the domestic opposition to the war on terror.
First of all, they either have no idea what they are talking about or they are knowingly lying, with the expectation that they can frame the argument any way they desire and the "stupid" American public will swallow their story unquestioningly. For those on the left who are technologically impaired, please visit Amygdala so you can at least discuss the NSA leak story without sounding like a complete fool. I include Jonathan Alter and Imus among the crowd who could use the remedial information Amygdala offers. Suffice it to say, the program the NSA ran was designed to monitor for specific language that would suggest a threat of terror; this monitoring, of necessity, is done by computers which can search through millions of electronic communications per second; this is not amenable to search warrants which require "probable cause", the name(s) of the people to be monitored, and much more information than would be available during such "real-time" and "near-real-time" monitoring. Again, there are more details at Amygdala's site and if there is any confusion about the NSA program, please visit there for clarification.
Along with having no clue about the NSA program, they get many of their other "facts" wrong as well. Captain Ed puts the lie to the continuing "Imperial Presidency" nonsense:
Despite recent protestations of Congressional outrage over the NSA program to intercept international communications from known and suspected al-Qaeda assets inside and outside of the US, it turns out that more members of Congress were told of the program than have let on. General Michael Hayden briefed members of both intelligence committees in October 2001 specifically to detail how the NSA would expand its reach in regards to FISA -- and the only concern given at the time was whether the NSA had gotten the proper presidential authority to proceed
Furthermore, they either truly believe that we can somehow win this war by treating al Qaeda to the full panoply of American civil liberties protections, or they are opportunists who take any offered opportunity to attack those they see as the true enemy, seeing Bush as more of a danger than al Qaeda.
Finally, they must believe that protecting the supposed civil liberties of al Qaeda members takes precedence over protecting the lives of American citizens. Remember those "dots"? Clarice Feldman described it this way in the American Thinker yesterday:
In 2002 both the New York Times and Newsweek reported that cumbersome legalities related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 prevented crucial dots from being connected, which could have stopped the 9/11 plot. Federal Judge Royce Lamberth’s criticisms and investigation of the FBI official charged under FISA with preparing FISA warrant requests had essentially shut down the process in the critical pre 9/11 period. This, in fact, was the reason why the agency had not sought a warrant to view the contents of Moussaoui’s computer, a search which as we now know might have prevented 9/11. Indeed, the Joint Senate and House Intelligence Committee report detailed just that.
It could not be any clearer that the left, in their desperation to regain power and their rage at being ignored, is willing to risk your life and mine in order to harm their own country, simply because it is no longer being run by them. The danger their ongoing efforts pose to our country is mounting and the danger to themselves remains unrecognized.