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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

War, what is it good for?

Is the US at war? Really?

George Bush has often said something like this during the past couple of years:
This is a dangerous time. I wish it wasn't this way. I wish I wasn't the war President. Who in the heck wants to be a war President? I don't. But this is what came our way. And this is our duty, to protect our people.
Congress never declared war on terrorism, per se. It hasn't formally declared war, in fact, since December 1941.

Would every congressional authorization to use force (think "Bosnia" or "Somalia") legitimize the kind of domestic spying the administration is currently justifying?

The President may not have wanted to be the "war president," but he and other members of his administration realize that it is a terrific way to increase executive power.

On January 24, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the program to intercept communications without warrants was justified because the US is "at war."
it's about detecting and preventing attacks. And we are a nation at war, and the courts have upheld the President's authority to engage in surveillance. Surveillance is critical to prevailing in the war on terrorism.
In the press conference, by the way, McClellan was being pushed to explain why the administration couldn't be bothered to obtain warrants -- since the relevant law (FISA) even allows the executive branch to obtain them after the surveillance begins!

Senate Democrats, however, certainly aren't buying the "we're at war" line. As reported in the Washington Post:
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that [Attorney General] Gonzales and other administration officials are engaging in "revisionist history" by portraying a congressional resolution authorizing military force against al Qaeda as justification for the NSA program.
This debate isn't over and I eagerly await Arlen Specter's hearings on this question.

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