Tomorrow’s Talking Points Today

TOMORROW’S TALKING POINTS TODAY….Max Boot regurgitates the latest conservative apologetics about the NSA spying case today:

I eagerly await the righteous indignation from the Plame Platoon about the spilling of secrets in wartime and its impassioned calls for an independent counsel to prosecute the leakers. And wait….And wait….

I suspect it’ll be a long wait because the rule of thumb seems to be that although it’s treasonous for pro-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass an administration critic, it’s a public service for anti-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass the administration.

You’d think that even Boot would be embarrassed to write a passage like that. But just for the record: yes, it’s wrong for those in power to abuse their power by leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative, an act that’s against the law. At the same time, it’s a public service to reveal abuses of power, including illegal programs to engage in domestic surveillance. That ought to be pretty easy to understand.

Still, I recommend Boot’s column because he’s become very good lately at distilling all the standard conservative talking points about a subject into a single 700-word column. So you can save yourself a lot of time by reading his column and skipping everything else. Take this, for example:

Ask yourself why there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil since 2001. Not one. It’s hard to know the exact reason we’ve been spared, but surely part of our good fortune should be attributed to the very measures ? the Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance, the renditions, the enhanced interrogation techniques ? that are now being pilloried by self-righteous journalists and lawmakers.

Of course, you might just as well ask yourself why there were no terrorist attacks on American soil in the four years before 9/11. The fact is, superhawks always claim their programs are vital to American security, and they almost always turn out to be wrong. We didn’t need to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, we didn’t need Joe McCarthy’s theatrics during the Cold War, and we didn’t need COINTELPRO during the Vietnam War. And when the Church Committee outlawed the most egregious of our intelligence abuses in the 70s, guess what happened? The Soviet Union disintegrated a decade later. Turns out we didn’t need that stuff after all. America is a lot stronger than its supposed defenders give it credit for.

In any case, Boot has succinctly expressed a talking point you can expect to hear a lot more of when al-Qaeda eventually mounts another successful attack on American soil, an act so likely as to be almost inevitable. No matter how big or how small that attack turns out to be, the hawks will rush to announce: it’s the liberals’ fault. It’s your fault. It’s my fault.

But never their fault. Never the fault of those who have so little faith in America’s institutions in the first place. It’s never their fault.