JOHN ASHCROFT: WEAK ON TERRORISM?….Look, if even John Ashcroft had qualms about the NSA’s secret domestic spying program, as Newsweek reports today, I think it’s safe to say that something is seriously wrong here. After all, we now know that the FISA court was unhappy about the NSA program; Congress was unwilling to pass a law authorizing it; and both John Ashcroft and his chief deputy ? in an election year! ? eventually came to feel that the program was being abused. That’s the trifecta: senior officials in all three branches of government felt that the program went beyond the president’s authority.

This whole thing is kind of depressing, isn’t it? I don’t mean in just the obvious sense, but also in the sense that this issue seems like such a clear loser for Democrats. Once again the president will be allowed to paint this as an issue of either wholeheartedly supporting the fight against terrorism or else being one of those whiny liberals who’s allied with Osama in all but name. That the real issue is that Bush secretly broke the law instead of getting congressional authorization for it ? which would have been a slam dunk for any remotely reasonable program ? will end up lost in a whirlwind of the jingoistic bloviating we’ve come to expect from Fox News and Dick Cheney.

But who knows? Maybe this time the press will see through the prattle and write about this scandal without the usual insistence on accepting transparently childish talking points from the conservo-bots as actual reportable news. That would be a nice New Year’s present.

Oh, and maybe the the tooth fairy will drop by with that quarter he forgot to give me 40 years ago. You never know.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!