Joe Klein: How to Stay Out of Power (and undermine the war in the process)
Joe Klein, no friend of the administration, writes a critique on Democrats who he thinks are playing too fast and loose with national security issues:
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, engaged in a small but cheesy bit of deception last week. She released a letter, which quickly found its way to the front page of the New York Times, that she had written on Oct. 11, 2001, to then National Security Agency director General Michael V. Hayden. In it she expressed concern that Hayden, who had briefed the House Intelligence Committee about the steps he was taking to track down al-Qaeda terrorists after the 9/11 attacks, was not acting with “specific presidential authorization.” Hayden wrote her back that he was acting under the powers granted to his agency in a 1981 Executive Order. In fact, a 2002 investigation by the Joint Intelligence Committees concluded that the NSA was not doing as much as it could have been doing under the law—and that the entire U.S. intelligence community operated in a hypercautious defensive crouch. “Hayden was taking reasonable steps,” a former committee member told me. “Our biggest concern was what more he could be doing.”
The Bush Administration had similar concerns. In the days after 9/11, it asked Hayden to push the edge of existing technology and come up with the best possible program to track the terrorists. The result was the now infamous NSA data-mining operation, which began months later, in early 2002. Vast amounts of phone and computer communications by al-Qaeda suspects overseas, including some messages to people in the U.S., could now be scooped up and quickly analyzed.
The release of Pelosi’s letter last week and the subsequent Times story (“Agency First Acted on Its Own to Broaden Spying, Files Show”) left the misleading impression that a) Hayden had launched the controversial data-mining operation on his own, and b) Pelosi had protested it. But clearly the program didn’t exist when Pelosi wrote the letter. When I asked the Congresswoman about this, she said, “Some in the government have accused me of confusing apples and oranges. My response is, it’s all fruit.”
A dodgy response at best, but one invested with a larger truth. For too many liberals, all secret intelligence activities are “fruit,” and bitter fruit at that. The government is presumed guilty of illegal electronic eavesdropping until proven innocent. This sort of civil-liberties fetishism is a hangover from the Vietnam era, when the Nixon Administration wildly exceeded all bounds of legality—spying on antiwar protesters and civil rights leaders.
Read the whole thing. Make sure to note his information on how there is evidence that, thanks to the leaker as well as the reporting of this story in the NYTimes, that the terrorists are modifying their behavior, which obviously hampers our ability to track them.
Looks like Orin Kerr was right.
To the (mostly) partisans who wanted this story pushed: are you happy now?
Read more via AJ Strata, Betsy Newmark, Powerline, Outside the Beltway, Say Anything
Related Toldjah So posts: Related Toldjah So posts:
- Why it was important to keep the cat in the bag
- The Rep. Jane Harman flip flop
- NSA initially acted on its own after 9-11
- Investigations begin into the NSA eavesdropping leak
- “â€¦ the only thing outrageous about this policy is the outrage itself”
- Michael Barone on the MSM’s â€˜eavesdropping’ coverage
- Brief history of warrantless searches
- Past presidents and the NSA
- Bill Clinton and the NSA
- WSJ: “Thank you for wiretapping”
- The Prez fires back
- Prez essentially says â€˜let me do my job’
- The undermining of this war