Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wishful Thinking

"With a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration."--editorial, New York Times, Aug. 18

"Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge's conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision's reasoning and rhetoric yesterday. They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government's major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions. Discomfort with the quality of the decision is almost universal, said Howard J. Bashman . . ."--news story, New York Times, Aug. 19

The legality of this program is an important question. From what I have read, I think the program is legal and the President has the authority (and should) to monitor foreign calls of suspected terrorists. This is my opinion, but I concede it is a little bit of a gray area.

Having a partisan hack like Judge Anna Diggs Taylor give an opinion based on emotion, and not fact, obscures this important debate. This not only obscures the debate, but it hurts the credibility of the judiciary in general. When you get illconcieved partisan bile like this from the independent non-partisan judiciary it makes it suspect as an independent arbiter.


Blogger Germanicu$ said...

"Even legal experts...were distancing themselves from the decision's reasoning and rhetoric yesterday."

Well, good for those loosely-defined, so-called "experts" the NYT vaguely attributes, for distancing themselves from rhetoric. Really, "legal expert" is just a fancy word for lawyer, and what lawyer worth his salt doesn't engage in regular bouts of rhetorical self-distancing?

(Incidentally, I've noticed lately that the Times is as guilty as any media source I read of quoting very loosely-defined, so-called "experts" in all sorts of their so-called "news.")

hurtleg says the legality is an important question, and I agree. Part of what makes democracy so sweet is how the laws are the laws, and all citizens are subject to them. One may think that the breaking of this law is necessary for the security of the country, and that this wiretapping is effectively a social good. But the President - a man like you or me, subject to penalties when he violates the laws - clearly has violated the law here. Irrespective of what's going on - We Are At War, blah blah blah - a sitting President breaking the law is a big fucking deal.

So it seems a little disingenuous that the only reaction I have seen from supporters of this war and this President has been a massive smear campaign of a sitting federal Judge. Say what you will about how the Left won't "let it go" when it comes to Bush v Gore - it's nothing compared to the vitriol and name-calling you see from the Right after losing this one. "Partisan hack" is a mild smear compared to everything else I've heard Judge Diggs Taylor called - everything from current swear word "activist judge" to the perenially damning "Carter appointee".

Part of what makes the independent non-partisan judiciary work is our acceptance of its alleged non-partisanship. What executive-appointed judge can't be (mis-)labeled, "partisan hack?"

I've heard a lot of reasonable people say, "Look, I have no problem letting the government listen in on my phone calls and monitoring my e-mails, if it will keep me from getting killed by terrorists." I wish all those people would sign themselves up for the Federal "Go Ahead And Spy On Me" registry, and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.

10:56 PM  

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