Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The Moose asks that we come and reason together,

During the Clinton years, a motley crew of Republican libertarians attempted to obstruct Clinton supported anti-terrorist provisions to "tag explosives." They fancied themselves as Second Amendment "absolutists" who feared that this measure was the first step down the slippery slope to prohibit gun ownership. Those Republicans were as wrong about "tagging" of explosives and the Second Amendment just as some liberals are wrong about the Bush Administration eavesdropping and the Fourth Amendment.

It was not an "unreasonable" search and seizure for the NSA to detect international phone calls of terrorist suspects. The key factor is that we are at war against a foe that is seeking to kill us. Congress passed a force resolution authorizing the President to defend the nation against Al Qaeda. Agility and speed was essential to exploit the information that was obtained from intelligence sources. It is now clear that the FISA law was an anachronism that was intended for Cold War espionage - far different from the post 9/11 era.

In retrospect, perhaps FISA should have been amended. However, it is not clear how the law could have been modified to handle the immediate necessity to detect cell phone calls. Maybe authorization can be accomplished retroactively - but that hardly will appease the critics. However, this was not a secret "Nixonian Plumbers" type operation. Members of Congress were notified as were FISA judges.

If a Senator thought that the Constitution was being violated, a mild protest through a single letter is not persuasive. It seems that it would have been his/her obligation to call the Senate into secret session and legislatively stop the violation of our founding document As a matter of fact, the Moose recalls that the Democratic leader recently involved that secret session option.

The President made a judgment - maybe it was not the best one. But he was clearly attempting to defend America against Jihadists. He was not attempting to nail or harass political enemies. He was not attempting to strengthen his hold on power. It might have been the wrong decision, but it was certainly not a venal one.

In an era of terrorism, there will always be a tension between privacy and security. The Moose was subjected to a warrant-less search just a few weeks ago when a TSA worker randomly took him out of a line at the Austin Airport and subjected to a rather intimate and invasive (but polite and professional) search by a security official. He did not object because he understood that security was the prevailing good. That search was likely far more intrusive than the NSA detection of the foreign phone calls.

If only the country could experience a reasonable discussion about this issue. In the nineties, the right was infected with Clinton rage. Every evil motive for every issue was ascribed to Bill Clinton. Today, the left is inflamed by Bush rage. Consequently, the left cannot view President Bush's action as right or wrong, but rather it is fundamentally evil and even impeachable.

Given their history, it is entirely likely that a pantheon of great liberal Presidents including FDR, Truman, JFK and LBJ would have acted no differently on national security than did President Bush. (And evidently the Clinton Justice Department argued that "the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.")

The Moose will not join this festival of Bush rage. While he has profound differences over W's domestic policies, winning the war against terror and preventing future attacks are far more critical than scoring partisan points. In the nineties, the Moose defended the Clinton ordered attacks on Al Qaeda, Iraq and the Balkans when some of his conservative colleagues suggested that it was just a "wag the dog" attempt to divert attention from his personal problems. He was no more a shill for Clinton then than he is an apologist for Bush today.

If that makes the Moose a "Republican plant" in the eyes of some puerile cyber-commissars, so be it. If the Moose offends the reader's liberal or libertarian sensibilities, please, please do us both a favor and don't bookmark this, don't read this and don't link to this . Moosketeers are a rare and hearty breed.

The Moose has no desire to win the acclaim or favor of the fever swamps of the right or the left. It is far, far more important to defend America against Jihadist terrorists who seek to do us harm than to slime a President.

The Moose feels much better after getting that off his chest. And that is the point of blogging.
-- Posted at 8:16 AM | Link to this post | Email this post