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 MoveOn.org 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 MoveOn.org 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.