Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Free speech vs National Security

My previous post mentioned the Strib's desire to treat terrorism as solely a law enforcement problem. This past week saw a highly publicized court decision calling for a halt to the 'eavesdropping' program on the argument that it's harming the ability for journalists and professors to communicate with contacts overseas. The ability to get inside of enemy correspondence is crucial in any war. Moreso against terrorists who rely so much on camoflauge and anonyminity. This ruling makes a law enforcement approach much more difficult. So the Strib is unhappy with it, right? Of course not:
Federal District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of Detroit has ripped a yawning hole in Bush administration's claims that it can use warrantless electronic surveillance on communications between people in the United States and people abroad who have a possible connection to Al-Qaida. This is a big victory for American civil liberties, at least temporarily.
No explanation is made to bolster the constitutional arguments put forth here. The editorial even calls the judges reasoning brilliant. Well, the NY Times, no friend of the Bush administration, has an interesting article here (registration required).
Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge’s conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric yesterday.
They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government’s major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions.
I understand the desire to protect civil liberties. I share that desire. If I had a magic wand I'd roll back considerable amounts of government power. But this is a case of misplaced anger. There's a pretty good post about this from Andy McCarthy at NRO. He highlights some hypocricy in the arguments against. But his closing lines get at the heart of the problem.
So which is it? Is the TSP leak a big nothing that changed no one's behavior, or a bombshell that changed everyone's behavior? Evidently, it depends on which scenario the Left believes will damage the Bush administration more on any given day.
A large portion of the left believes that Bush is a more important opponent than any set of terrorists. Frankly that's shameful.


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