Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jonathan Alter on Snoopgate

Snoopgate isn't really an adequately nasty name for this latest scandal but it must do for now. Alter's article is brilliant:

Dec. 19, 2005 - Finally we have a Washington scandal that goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power. President Bush came out swinging on Snoopgate—he made it seem as if those who didn't agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We're seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

No wonder Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I learned this week that on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president's desperation.

Now isn't that cute? The president having a chat with the top brass of the New York Times? I would like to know if they had another similar talk right before the 2004 elections, to postpone the publication of their little bomb until after the elections. And I would like to know if that little talk led to the supposed Bush victory. Just imagine what might have happened if we had learned about the Snoopgate before the elections!

Well, perhaps nothing would have been different. Sometimes I despair over the apathy of the American voters. But it seems very wrong to me for the Times to have sat on this article for one full year, very wrong indeed.

I wish to apologize for harping on this one topic. But it is a very important topic and deserves a lot of harping.