Monday, January 09, 2006

Wilder Donkeys

Atrios gave his wanker of the day award to Joe Klein, a pundit whom I hadn't read before. I have now made up for that deficiency, and in my humble opinion Klein's wankership award is well deserved, especially as he is supposed to be the token liberal columnist on Time's rolls.

Think of the fact that he calls me a wilder donkey. Well, not me personally, but people who argue the way I have been known to argue. This is what he says about us:

But these concerns pale before the importance of the program. It would have been a scandal if the NSA had not been using these tools to track down the bad guys. There is evidence that the information harvested helped foil several plots and disrupt al-Qaeda operations.

There is also evidence, according to U.S. intelligence officials, that since the New York Times broke the story, the terrorists have modified their behavior, hampering our efforts to keep track of them—but also, on the plus side, hampering their ability to communicate with one another.

Pelosi made clear to me that she considered Hayden, now Deputy Director of National Intelligence, an honorable man who would not overstep his bounds. "I trust him," she said. "I haven't accused him of anything. I was, and remain, concerned that he has the proper authority to do what he is doing." A legitimate concern, but the Democrats are on thin ice here. Some of the wilder donkeys talked about a possible Bush impeachment after the NSA program was revealed.

I bolded the relevant bit so that it is easier for you to see what I mean. And what, exactly, are the "concerns" which pale in comparison to our donkey stampedes? This is what preceded the above quote in Klein's diatribe:

The liberal reaction is also an understandable consequence of the Bush Administration's tendency to play fast and loose on issues of war and peace—rushing to war after overhyping the intelligence on Saddam Hussein's nuclear-weapons program, appearing to tolerate torture, keeping secret prisons in foreign countries and denying prisoners basic rights. At the very least, the Administration should have acted, with alacrity, to update the federal intelligence laws to include the powerful new technologies developed by the NSA.

Do you think that I might have misunderstood Klein? Perhaps he is writing satire? Going to war on false pretenses, torturing people and keeping secret prisons in foreign countries all pale before what?

Klein must be joking. For later in the article he states:

Most polls indicate that a strong majority of Americans favor the [Patriot] act, and I suspect that a strong majority would favor the NSA program as well, if its details were declassified and made known.

In fact, liberal Democrats are about as far from the American mainstream on these issues as Republicans were when they invaded the privacy of Terri Schiavo's family in the right-to-die case last year.

Klein may suspect whatever he likes but the truth is that a slim majority of Americans disagree with him:

Over the past three weeks,
President Bush and top aides have defended the electronic monitoring program they secretly launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, as a vital tool to protect the nation from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

Can Klein really be a Liberal? If he is counted as one in this new faith-based world then what am I? Oh, I forgot. I'm a wilder donkey.