Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I'm surprised that no one has used this title before, but this goes on top of the ole book pile as soon as it comes out:

Cue the Mighty Wurlitzer in 5...4...3...2...and a-waaaay we go.

I don't think it's much of a secret that I've been dubious of whatever-we're-calling-the-warrantless-surveilance-program today from the start. And nothing that's happened since then has given me much comfort.

As to the legalities, the arguments presented by the administration are laughably implausible. One needs only to look at the response of say Fred Barnes on Bill Maher's show to the question "So these powers will be fine when Hillary is president?" (and I think I just threw up a little in my mouth writing that sentance) A smirk, a nervous laugh and and "of course" with that 'you know I'm just kidding right?' look on his face.

But beyond that, I still haven't heard a compelling, non-threatening, rationale for the question-beggingly named "Terrorist Surveilance Program". Or to be slightly more generous, the continuing secret existence of that program well after 9/11. No matter how many times the President argues otherwise, nobody (relevant) is saying that spying on terrorists is a bad thing. Many people have said that spying on non-terrorists is a bad thing - thus the need for oversight to balance the harms and benefits.*

If it's a good program in terms of acquiring useful information and protecting what privacy us average Americans have left, how tough a sell would it be to a GOP dominated Congress? And please, spare me the tripe about "now they know we're listening!" In the Darwininian world of high-level crimality and terror, the stupid ones get weeded out early.

Why do I feel like I've written this before?

*Update: Hilzoy puts it well, if snarkily (as if snark is frowned upon in WAP...):
Scenario 1: I own a grocery store. Agents of the government come in and take all the food off my shelves without paying for it. I protest; they say: it's for the troops in Iraq. I reply: but that doesn't mean you can just take the food without paying for it! I write to my representatives asking that they do something.

The RNC ad: "Now people like hilzoy want to censure the President for trying to make sure that our men and women in uniform have food on the table. She doesn't support our troops; she'd rather see them starve to death than give them a decent meal. It's a good thing people like her don't run the country."

Possible addition: the Democrats propose that we just buy food for the troops, as has always been done in the past. The RNC ad: "Now the Democrats want to spend more of your money on big government programs."

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