STILL MISSING THE POINT….It’s been 12 days since the president has had to deal with questions about his warrantless-search program, a respite Bush has no doubt enjoyed. But today, after visiting with some injured troops, the president took a few questions from reporters. Guess what they wanted to talk about.
“It’s seems logical to me that if we know there’s a phone number associated with al-Qaida or an al-Qaida affiliate and they’re making phone calls, it makes sense to find out why,” Bush said. “They attacked us before, they’ll attack us again.”
Bush spoke to reporters at Brooke Army Medical Center where he was visiting wounded troops. He said the leak of information about the secret order to eavesdrop on Americans with suspected ties to terrorists causes “great harm to the nation.”
Asked how he responds to Americans worried about violations of their privacy, he responded, “If somebody from al-Qaida is calling you, we’d like to know why…. I think most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy’s thinking.”
Yes, of course we want to know. To fight a war on terrorism and defend the country, we need to know. In fact, the FISA court would be delighted to give the administration a warrant so officials can know why someone is chatting with terrorists. It leads, of course, to the one question the president doesn’t want to hear and can’t answer: why not spy on the bad guys without circumventing the rule of law?
As for today’s revelation — that the Justice Department was hardly on board with this warrantless-search program — the AP account explained that Bush “dodged a question about whether he was aware of any resistance to the program at high levels of his administration and how that might have influenced his decision to approve it.”
And with that, the fight to frame the controversy continues. For Bush, it’s “there’s an enemy, so spying is a necessity.” For his critics, it’s “spy all you want, just get a warrant and allow for some oversight.” ‘Round and ’round we go….