Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Donkey Differs

The Moose welcomes a healthy debate in the DLC Zoo.

The always erudite and eloquent New Donkey differs with the Moose on the NSA eavesdropping matter. Without belaboring the matter, the Moose continues to believe that the President had authority both under Article II of the Constitution and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed by Congress to conduct the interception of enemy communications.

One can question the legal rationale that was employed by President, but there is absolutely no evidence that he was attempting to do anything else but protect America. It might be satisfying for partisans to cast around comparisons to Nixon or Harding, but this was a program to thwart terrorists not for political aggrandizement.

This was far from "scofflaw behavior". Rather, it was laudatory of the Administration to decisively employ technology to detect what the Jihadists were up to. Should there be improvements and reforms in our intelligence operations? Of course. However, we should not cripple electronic intelligence in a partisan pique the way we hobbled human intelligence in the 1970's. Moreover, had the Administration failed to implement the eavesdropping program and another attack occurred, undoubtedly the Bushies would have been faulted for negligence. The critics want to have it both ways.

Checks and balances are important but so is the separation of powers in the conduct of war. The Moose is open to a modification of FISA. However, it is not exactly clear what changes could be made without making it merely a rubber stamp for executive action. And we can have a reasoned debate about this issue without impugning the motives of a Commander in Chief who was attempting to defend the nation.

Some context is desperately in order. Lest we forget, less than five years ago, Al Qaeda slaughtered thousands of Americans on our own soil. We then monitored the communications of those individuals who were contacted by Al Qaeda. And the problem is? In the fevered imagination of Bush haters this was the equivalent of Watergate or Teapot Dome, but the Moose is not persuaded.

Finally, the Moose praises the New Donkey for his reasoned and gentlemanly rejoinder (plus the distinguished donkey writes a marvelous defense of Joe here).

-- Posted at 8:22 AM | Link to this post | Email this post