Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So Much For Thoughtful Conservatives

The Wall Street Journal used to be a bastion of highly educated, intelligent, principled conservatives (of course their principles more often than not conveniently made them richer but that is beside the point for the moment). Now it has become a print version of FOX News.

Just check out this editorial by Pete Du Pont claiming that Ben Franklin would approve of warrantless wire taps if he were alive today. In it the author repeatedly asserts that because various founding fathers kept secrets in the name of national security (all the examples directly involve more or less conventional military operations), they would have been OK with Bush's warrantless surveilance of US citizens. There are a number of problems with this idiotic line of "reasoning" but I'll concentrate on two of them.

First, Du Pont tries to draw an analogy between covert military operations such as secret military aid from an ally (France) or a secret rescue mission of hostages (held by Tripoli Pirates) and the warrantless surveillance of US citizens residing in the United States. The analogy does not even survive the most superficial examination. Du Pont is claiming that because it is necessary to keep a military operation secret (which was legal then as now), it is therefore unnecessary to abide by current US law, let alone Constitutional limits, regarding search and seizure.

Second, Du Pont chose Ben Franklin of all people as his Founding Father to hijack. Ben Franklin famously said, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Hardly the sentiments of a man who would support George Bush and the Republicans on this NSA thing.

This is just typical of the kind of low grade sophistry to which the Republican Party has sunk.

1 comment:

Dr. Strangelove said...

Like most Republican spokesmen these days, the editorialist is bent on ignoring or obscuring crucial distinctions.

Wiretaps on American soil are not in and of themselves illegal, and other Presidents have done it. Warrantless wiretaps are not in and of themselves illegal, and other Presidents have done it. Wiretaps on American citizens are not in and of themselves illegal, and other Presidents have done it. You always hear Republicans try to squeak by with one of these statements. It's really quite stunning--and the press usually is complicit in failing to call them on it.

The huge problem--the part where the President well and truly crossed the line--comes when one puts all these things together. Warrantless wiretaps on American citizens on American soil is certainly illegal--and when there is even a secret court that can issue warrants after the fact, there is really no excuse!

And of course, DuPont's ignorance about Benjamin Franklin's life and values is reflective of the conservative myth that everyone used to agree with them years ago.