Thursday, November 30, 2006

OK, listen carefully while Glenn explains it one more time...

I've written before lauding Glenn Greenwald for his patience because it gets tested so often by the neocon shills he confronts. Responding to the cries of "I told you so" from the right after GWB's hand-picked yes-men on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board reported that they had been told (yes, that's right, they have no authority to investigate on their own) by the government that all the wiretapping was kosher, Glenn explains, yet again...
It is truly astounding to watch people incapable of understanding the point that the reason it is wrong and dangerous for the President to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants is because doing so is against the law. Shouldn't that be a simple enough proposition that every functioning adult ought to be capable of understanding it? It doesn't mean that everyone has to agree with that proposition -- if people want to continue to cling to the theory that the President is unbound by the law concerning matters of national security, obviously they are free to do so.

But there is no excuse for failing to comprehend the objections to the President's behavior, particularly since the central objection is not all that complicated. To the contrary, it is what we all learn in seventh-grade civics.

One more time: the principal problem with the President's warrantless eavesdropping is not that he is abusing the secret eavesdropping powers he seized (that is something we do not yet know, because the Congress has not yet investigated that question). Instead, the "problem" is that the President is engaging in the very conduct which the American people, through their Congress almost 30 years ago, made it a felony to engage in, punishable by up to five years in prison -- that is, eavesdropping on Americans without judicial oversight.

Thus, even if Lanny Davis and the other Republicans on the panel think the President is using his illegal powers carefully, his conduct is no less illegal. Why is it necessary even to point that out? This has been the obvious and paramount point from the beginning, as I wrote in my book (at pages 25, 60) (emphasis in original):

The heart of the matter is that the president broke the law, deliberately and repeatedly, no matter what his rationale was for doing so. We do not have a system of government in which the president has the right to violate laws, even if he believes doing so will produce good results. . . .

The NSA eavedsdropping scandal, as its core, is not an eavesddropping scandal. It is a lawbreaking scandal . . .


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