Monday, February 06, 2006

The short answer is, we didn’t think we needed to

The BBC said it, I didn’t: “Muslim Cartoon Fury Claims Lives.”

Alberto Gonzales, testifying about domestic surveillance, gave an answer that it took me a second to realize was inadvertently revealing: asked why the admin hadn’t consulted Congress, he replied, “The short answer is, we didn’t think we needed to.” Going into the store this morning, I didn’t need to hold the door for the person behind me, it wasn’t a legal requirement, but I did it anyway. Asked where in the Constitution it says that the prez can wiretap American citizens without a warrant, he admitted “nowhere specifically.” So if they don’t wanna do something, they don’t gotta unless it says so in exactly as many words in the Constitution, but if they wanna do something, they’ll interpret the shit out of that parchment. (Update: Leahy made exactly that point: “I’m getting the impression this administration picks and chooses what it’s subject to.”) So there was a lot of talk about the inherent powers of this incoherent president; “inherent powers” are the Holy Ghost of this administration’s constitutional theology. Biden asked what damage could really have been caused by the leak of the existence of this program, didn’t terrorists already figure that they were being listened to; Gonzales replied that “if they’re not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.” And for sweeps, a little stunt casting: the R’s brought the sister of one of the 9/11 pilots to the hearings.

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