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Thread: William Kristol: Paranoia Trumps Sense Among Liberals

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    William Kristol: Paranoia Trumps Sense Among Liberals

    William Kristol: Paranoia trumps sense among liberals
    Are we really to believe that Bush just sat around after 9/11 thinking, "How can I aggrandize my powers?"

    http://www.startribune.com/562/story/155501.html

    William Kristol, Los Angeles Times
    Last update: December 31, 2005 – 7:25 PM

    No reasonable American, no decent human being, wants to send up a white flag in the war on terror. But leading spokesmen for American liberalism -- hostile beyond reason to the Bush administration, and ready to believe the worst about American public servants -- seem to have concluded that the terror threat is mostly imaginary. It is the threat to civil liberties from President George W. Bush that is the real danger.

    These liberals recoil unthinkingly from the obvious fact that our national security requires policies that are a step (but only a careful step) removed from ACLU dogma.

    On Dec. 19, Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and now deputy director of national intelligence, held a briefing for journalists. It included this exchange:

    Reporter: Have you identified armed enemy combatants, through this program, in the United States?

    Gen. Hayden: This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States.

    Reporter: General Hayden, I know you're not going to talk about specifics about that, and you say it's been successful. But would it have been as successful -- can you unequivocally say that something has been stopped or there was an imminent attack or you got information through this that you could not have gotten through going to the court?

    Gen. Hayden: I can say unequivocally, all right, that we have got information through this program that would not otherwise have been available.

    Now, Hayden is by all accounts a serious, experienced, nonpolitical military officer. You'd think that a statement like this, by a man in his position, would at least slow down the glib assertions of politicians and journalists that there was no conceivable reason for Bush to bypass the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.

    As Gary Schmitt and David Tell explain in the Weekly Standard, FISA was broken well before Sept. 11, 2001. Was the president to ignore the evident fact that FISA's procedures and strictures were simply incompatible with dealing with the Al-Qaida threat in an expeditious manner?

    Was the president to ignore the obvious incapacity of any court, operating under any intelligible legal standard, to judge surveillance decisions involving the sweeping of massive numbers of cell phones and e-mails by high-speed computers in order even to know where to focus resources?

    Was the president, in the wake of Sept. 11, and with the threat of imminent new attacks, really supposed to sit on his hands and gamble that Congress might figure out a way to fix FISA, if it could even be fixed? The questions answer themselves.

    But the spokesmen for contemporary liberalism didn't pause to even ask these questions. The day after Hayden's press briefing, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asserted on CNN's "The Situation Room" that there was "no excuse" for the president's actions.

    The ranking Democrat on that committee, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, confidently stated on NBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews" that the president's claims were "bizarre" and that "aggrandizement of power" was probably the primary reason for the president's actions, since "there was no need to do any of this."

    So we are really to believe that Bush just sat around after 9/11 thinking, "How can I aggrandize my powers?" Or that Hayden -- and his hundreds of nonpolitical subordinates -- cheerfully agreed to an obviously crazy, bizarre and unnecessary project of "domestic spying"?

    This is the fever swamp into which American liberalism is on the verge of descending.

    Some have already descended. Consider Arlene Getz, senior editorial manager at Newsweek.MSNBC.com. She posted an article Wednesday -- also after Hayden's press briefing -- on Newsweek's website ruminating on "the parallels" between Bush's defense of his "spying program" and, yes, "South Africa's apartheid regime."

    "Back in the 1980s, when I was living in Johannesburg and reporting on apartheid South Africa, a white neighbor proffered a tasteless confession. She was 'quite relieved,' she told me, that new media restrictions prohibited our reporting on government repression. No matter that Pretoria was detaining tens of thousands of people without real evidence of wrongdoing. No matter that many of them, including children, were being tortured -- sometimes to death. No matter that government hit squads were killing political opponents. No matter that police were shooting into crowds of black civilians protesting against their disenfranchisement. 'It's so nice,' confided my neighbor, 'not to open the papers and read all that bad news.'

    "I thought about that neighbor this week, as reports dribbled out about President George W. Bush's sanctioning of warrantless eavesdropping on American conversations. ... I'm sure there are many well-meaning Americans who agree with their president's explanation that it's all a necessary evil (and that patriotic citizens will not be spied on unless they dial up Osama bin Laden). But the nasty echoes of apartheid South Africa should at least give them pause."

    Yup. First the Bush administration will listen in to international communications of a few hundred people in America who seem to have been in touch with terrorists abroad ... and next thing you know, government hit squads will be killing Bush's political opponents.

    What is one to say about these media-Democratic spokesmen for contemporary American liberalism? That they have embarrassed and discredited themselves. That they cannot be taken seriously as critics.

    It would be good to have a responsible opposition party in the United States today. It would be good to have a serious mainstream media. Too bad we have neither.

    William Kristol is the editor of the Weekly Standard. Distributed by the New York Times Syndicate.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    So we are really to believe that Bush just sat around after 9/11 thinking, "How can I aggrandize my powers?"
    BUZZ!!!! Er... yes?

    It would be good to have a responsible opposition party in the United States today. It would be good to have a serious mainstream media. Too bad we have neither.
    Is it wrong to agree with Bill Kristol? He's exactly right, too bad he doesn't actually mean what he says - at least not the way I do. And I'd replace 'responsible' with 'principled'.

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