The Simmering Frog

THE SIMMERING FROG….As we all know, President Bush believes he has the right to eavesdrop on calls between the United States and foreign countries at his sole discretion ? without a warrant, without probable cause, and regardless of the requirements of federal law. But if he has that inherent authority, why not also eavesdrop on purely domestic calls? Back in January, a reporter asked General Michael Hayden this question and Hayden said simply, “that’s where we’ve decided to draw that balance between security and liberty.”

In other words, the president could eavesdrop on domestic calls too if he felt like it. On Thursday, the administration confirmed this point of view:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States ? a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

….”I’m not going to rule it out,” Gonzales said.

….Gonzales previously testified in the Senate that Bush had considered including purely domestic communications in the NSA spying program, but he said the idea was rejected in part because of fears of a public outcry.

This is exactly why a public outcry is important. Once the public accepts the idea that domestic-to-international calls can be tapped at the whim of the administration ? without a warrant and without bothering to show probable cause ? they’re a lot less likely to be upset at the prospect of domestic-to-domestic calls being tapped too. The frog is simmering.