December 18, 2005

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

So for those that haven't been keeping up on whole wiretapping story that's been rolling out lately, here's a quick recap: The New York Times reported that the White House has increasingly authorized, over the last several years, the tapping of Americans' telephones without a warrant. Evidently they had this story a year ago, but were asked by the White House to not publish it for "national security" reasons. In his most recent radio address President Bush admitted to reauthorizing these types taps over 30 times and admonished the Times for publishing the story. Let's ignore, for now, the implications of a President publically getting involved in the editorial process of the press.

Ezra reminds us all that the government tapping phones is not illegal. There are laws on the books that give the government a lot of leeway in getting phones tapped when they need them, the only difference is that the laws require some kind of oversight, even if it's not publically disclosed. So it's not that there's a problem with trying to stop terrorists, it's that covering it up like they did is breaking the law.

Also, the Post is reporting that at least some of these wire taps were on American citizens that the FBI acknowledges were not suspected of any wrongdoing. Like Ezra, I'm trying to hold back my inclination to be terrified of this kind of conduct, but I don't see any real explanation for it that makes me feel any better.

We'll see how this pans out, but this isn't one of those "Did the President really lie when he got us into Iraq?" sorts of scandals. The law is rather clear on this issue and unless something crazy happens and changes the facts, the President has admitted to conduct that violates the law.

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