Thursday, December 22, 2005

Follow Up: Still More Proverbial Hits the Fan

Another shockwave as a result of President Bush's directive allowing the National Security Agency to bypass a secret court and spy on Americans: Several members of the court -- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- are said to be hopping mad and want to know why the president believed that eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails without their authorization was legal.

I've been wondering the same thing myself.

Anyhow, several media outlets are reporting that Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelley has told fellow FISC members that she plans to convene a pow-wow in Washington next month where she expects the White House to give a briefing on the NSA program.

One FISC judge is said to be so pissed off that he is suggesting that the court be disbanded since the president believes he has the power to bypass it. Asked the judge:

Why do we even exist if the Bush administration claims absolute wartime power to do anything it wants without our approval?

Why indeed?

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online editor at large, makes a strong argument for justifying the secret directive but said the administration then should have made sure that it passed legal muster:

From what we know, it sounds like the initial decision to be as aggressive as possible in rolling up al Qaeda was completely justified. Recall what it was like in the weeks and months after 9/11, when the death toll was still believed to be much higher than 3,000, anthrax was buzzing through the postal system, and an unknown number of sleeper cells existed on our soil . . .Speed was of the essence, and the system back then was not speedy.

. . . There's very little an American president can't do when there's an immediate crisis. But as it became clear this war was going to be a marathon instead of a sprint, Bush should have figured out how to reinsert the rule of law into the process.

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