Another WSJ Editorial Farce

Today’s Wall Street Journal includes an editorial attacking Senate Democrats like Barack Obama and Chris Dodd for their work to stop retroactive immunity and pass legislation that includes congressional and judicial oversight of domestic surveillance. Not surprisingly, a paper that has cheered every rollback of rights under the Bush administration doesn’t miss this opportunity to proudly display their urine-soaked bedsheets of fearful anti-constitutionality.

“We lost every single battle we had on this bill,” conceded Chris Dodd, which ought to tell the Connecticut Senator something about the logic of what he was proposing.

Really? How, exactly, does the lack of political will to defend the rule of law challenge the logic of standing up for the rule of law? I suppose the WSJ thinks something is only worth doing if you know you’ll win in the end, an attitude reflecting a complete lack of guiding principle. I don’t doubt that the WSJ would be happier if Dodd and others let the Bush administration shred the Constitution and give the big telecom companies special treatment behind closed doors, with no prying eyes, questioning journalists, or engaged citizens. Business was certainly better for the telecoms when customers weren’t running away in response to their behavior. To the extent that Dodd et alia were able to bring attention to what the Bush administration and companies like Verizon and AT&T have perpetrated, the WSJ has had to watch their pals get smeared with the truth.

It says something about his national security world view, or his callowness, that Mr. Obama would vote to punish private companies that even the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee said had “acted in good faith.”

But what does it say about the WSJ’s national security world view or their editorial board’s callowness that the other three congressional committees that considered retroactive immunity – the Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence, and House Judiciary Committees – all said that the telecoms did not act in good faith, but rather should be held accountable through normal judicial processes for their behavior? The WSJ and the Republican Party on whole have tried to spread the myth that because the SSCI thinks retroactive immunity is a good idea, all relevant committees think they do. It simply isn’t true, though it’s been used effectively and helped secure retroactive immunity in the Senate (praise be to Jay Rockefeller).

Had Senator Obama prevailed, a President Obama might well have been told “no way” when he asked private Americans to help his Administration fight terrorists. Mr. Obama also voted against the overall bill, putting him in territory.

Really? Because according to the US Senate and, um, history Obama did not vote against the overall bill. He voted for a number of good amendments earlier day and he voted against cloture, but the WSJ is not only playing fast and loose with the facts, but actually making things up. I’d have to guess Obama did not do what wanted on final passage.

Getting to the actual hypothetical levied in this bumbling attack by the WSJ, I’d hope telecoms say no if President Obama asks for their help. If he makes the simple step of getting a warrant, I’d certainly expect the telecoms to comply. I haven’t heard of a single documented case where the telecoms refused to help the US Government spy on suspected terrorists when a warrant is forthcoming; to do so would surely land them in far greater legal hot water than their current plight.

The defeat of these antiwar amendments means the legislation now moves to the House in a strong position.

Read that sentence again. One word should stand out. Antiwar? This legislation had nothing to do with the war. It didn’t have anything to do with Iraq – it didn’t even have anything to do with Afghanistan. It’s a broad package of laws governing how the US government can monitor Americans. Pretending otherwise goes beyond the realm of Republican framing and circles right back to, well, where they were in the previous paragraph, making things up about Obama’s votes. It’s lunacy, derived from their need to lie about what is going on in order to present a favorable case for their positions.

I’d say that this editorial farce is an embarrassment to their paper, but it’s the Wall Street Journal, so this is pretty standard for them.

23 thoughts on “Another WSJ Editorial Farce

  1. The WSJ comment on “antiwar” are telling. What neocons always fail to notice is that we are not at war at all.
    No declaration of war was ever passed in the only branch of government that can declare war. So our actions in Iraq are extraconstitutional in any case.
    But the War on Terror is pure invention. It is impossible to declate war on a tactic or crime. There is no more a constitutional basis for using “war powers” in waging the War on Terror than there is for fighting the war on crime or the war on drugs or the war on poverty.
    These are slogans, not a grant of powers to a president.
    When the media finally challenges this “war” language perhaps we can start to act responsibly in the world again.


  2. The problem is, how many WSJ readers will lap up the editorial as the gospel truth? I’m betting most of them will. And besides Keith Olbermann, who in the media is even talking about FISA?


  3. Two things.

    1. The WSJ isn’t even good enough to use for a pee pad for my dog. Those who read it eat *hit by definition.

    2. I voted for OBAMA YES! ! ! ! !

    And I plan to do it again in November.


  4. 50 U.S.C.A. 1805(i) states the following:

    Bar to legal action
    No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of
    a wire or electronic communication service, landlord, custodian, or
    other person (including any officer, employee, agent, or other
    specified person thereof) that furnishes any information,
    facilities, or technical assistance in accordance with a court
    order or request for emergency assistance under this chapter for
    electronic surveillance or physical search.

    Immunity for legal conduct is already in there. So basically, this shameless act by the Senate is indisputably intended to shield illegal conduct. Moreover, the telecom companies have years of experience with FISA, s they can’t claim that they didn’t know what the rules were.

    Of course, this kind of actual reasoning will never appear in the WSJ.

    And Hillary’s non-vote was an absolute disgrace.


  5. Someone should remind WSJ that by taking that position they are empowering President Obama. or Clinton, to tap their phones. Which lead to my proposal: once the new president is in place, the raw number of lines and email accounts taped should be published, to drive home the point that the tapping has been indiscriminant. This then would setup a circumstance where the ‘conservatives ‘ will demand the program be shut down, when it dawns on them that they might be on the receiving end. The
    ‘conservatives’ cares about privacy when it is theirs.


  6. “I’d hope telecoms say no if President Obama asks for their help. If he makes the simple step of getting a warrant, I’d certainly expect the telecoms to comply. I haven’t heard of a single documented case where the telecoms refused to help the US Government spy on suspected terrorists when a warrant is forthcoming; to do so would surely land them in far greater legal hot water than their current plight.”


    I’ve been smacking myself in the forehead, just screaming at the TV, asking who in God’s green earth would fail to comply with a court order to assist?

    Answer: certainly no telecom since their executive officers would most certainly serve jail time for contempt if they did.

    Qwest knew better.


  7. Thanks Matt; my letter:
    It is perhaps reflective of the new ownership of the Wall Street Journal that such false and poor writing as evidenced by this editorial makes it into the pages of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
    The oft repeated claim by Republican Senators and the Bush Administration that telecommunication companies would hesitate to assist the U.S. Government when presented with a warrant is so specious as to be laughable. It would also be treason per

    TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 115 > § 2381.
    That these companies would lose billions as a result of lawsuits is also laughable.
    And to misrepresent a Senator’s voting record AND phrase the differing amendments seeking to allow adjudication to continue as ‘anti-war’ is both intellectually dishonest and also a disservice to WSJ readers. That this was intellectually dishonest can be seen simply from the fact that three of the four Congressional committees – the Senate Judiciary, House Intelligence, and House Judiciary Committees- with oversight in this matter voted to remove any immunity for these companies.
    The WSJ has provided further evidence that honest journalism is not longer an ethic that it follows.


  8. The Senators who voted for the FISA Amendments Act are not only looking out for the acquiescent telecoms, they’re trying to insulate themselves from any possibility of being blamed should there occur in the USA another terror attack resulting in human casualties and economic harm—as though most of the public would blame them for not trading constitutional liberties for promises of improved security.

    If the House and Senate agree upon FISA revisions and President Bush signs the resulting legislation into law, there will be much analysis of the new law’s implications and effects. I’d like to learn more about the vulnerabilities that the rush to security and the rapid growing of the intelligence-industrial complex may be introducing into information and communication systems, and more about the extent of personal, unwarranted surveillance; secrecy and classification make it hard to learn enough about either.


  9. Democrats who vote to extend these powers should be removed from office. Republicans are playing their usual games with no regard to the Constitution.


  10. Jianying Ji,
    Remember Watergate?
    Part of the appeal of unfetterred wiretapping is that you can spy on your political rivals for electoral advantage.

    What if Candidate McCain has access to every Democratic strategy before it is in place? What if he has access to his opponent’s family’s every private conversation?
    The power that the Bush administration has insisted on is the power to perpetuate Republican control over that power.


  11. WSJ is Murdoch’s attempt at relevance. His attempt to buy legitamacy is only successful if the blogosphere respects the pruchased name.
    It is NO LONGER the Wall Street Journal of old.

    RIP WSJ. Hello Wall Street Murdoch.


  12. Can one compare the WSJ to the Nazi newspapers in Hitler’s 12 year Reich? Google: ‘The 14 points of Fascism’ and e-mail to anybody and everybody–start a chain e-mail or print out and distribute in your community. We the people can STAND AND FIGHT against the forces of FASCISM..


  13. This is just another push down the obvious downhill slide of this great country.

    If this editorial shows anything about the WSJ, it’s that the editorial writers are more concerned about their present dollar than they are about the future spying on their children and grandchildren.

    In short, they don’t give a damn about their families, just themselves.

    The status quo will not always remain the status quo.

    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.


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