Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Little Administration Who Cried Wolf at the Door

Eric Lichtau, one of the NY Times reporters who broke the story about the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, has written a book about the experience which is excerpted in Slate. This graph stands out:

    For more than an hour, we told Bush's aides what we knew about the wiretapping program, and they in turn told us why it would do grave harm to national security to let anyone else in on the secret. Consider the financial damage to the phone carriers that took part in the program, one official implored. If the terrorists knew about the wiretapping program, it would be rendered useless and would have to be shut down immediately, another official urged: "It's all the marbles." The risk to national security was incalculable, the White House VIPs said, their voices stern, their faces drawn. "The enemy," one official warned, "is inside the gates." The clich├ęs did their work; the message was unmistakable: If the New York Times went ahead and published this story, we would share the blame for the next terrorist attack.
Sound familiar? This is exactly the parade of horribles Bush marches down Pennsylvania Avenue when Congress considers renewing the program. As Lichtau notes later in the article, none of these things proved true about the Times' story. There is every reason to believe that the administration alarmist rhetoric about the renewal debate generally and the supposed national security imperative of telecom immunity in particular is similarly specious.

Want to know why liberals suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Exhibit A. The administration plays up fears, politicizes crucial national security issues and lies like most people breathe.