Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Real Abuse of Power v. Crying Wolf

Today's OpinionJournal notes the difference:
We'd also have an easier time taking our solons seriously if they'd ever demonstrated they understand what the real abuse of surveillance powers looks like. A good place to start would be stripping J. Edgar Hoover's name from FBI headquarters.

For at least 30 years, Congress has known full well that Hoover didn't serve nearly five decades as FBI director because he was indispensable, but because he'd amassed potentially embarrassing information on the elected leaders who might have wanted to remove him from his post. Hoover was also willing to use the FBI illegitimately to spy on the politically difficult likes of Martin Luther King Jr. It has even been suggested that Hoover engineered Lyndon Johnson's nomination for the Vice Presidency by threatening JFK with the revelation of his extramarital affairs. That Hoover's name continues to adorn FBI headquarters needlessly shames every one of the honest civil servants who report for work there on a daily basis.


Key members of the relevant Congressional oversight committees were informed at least 12 times. The chief judges of the FISA court knew about it. The process was routinely reviewed by Justice Department lawyers and by the Attorney General himself. And the President examined and reauthorized the program every 45 days or so.

In short, if there were any real abuses going on here, there were plenty of people in the loop and able to blow the whistle. Instead, we've only heard from people who, for reasons of partisanship or ignorance of the President's Constitutional war-fighting powers, object to warrantless surveillance per se. Dressing up such a separation of powers dispute in the language of scandal, as is happening now, serves no one but our common enemies.
That would mean ending rank partisanship and contemptible pandering to Reasonable mouth-foamers. Not to mention surrendering the Bush Hatred that has so energized loyal opposition coffers. Think of the cost in campaign funds if reasoned debate replaced shrill hystrionics. George Soros would shut the faucet.

Fortunately, the Democrats rhetoric has only bolstered President Bush's approval numbers. Apparently, too many Fools like the idea that the US investigates potential threats to our nation's security without violating anyone's rights or getting wrapped in red tape. Who'd have figured?