I can’t help myself; sometimes I just have to take a peek at what the righties are up to. Part of my fascination with social pathology, I suppose. Anyway, after checking some rightie blogs for commentary on the Senate Judiciary Committee NSA hearings, I can report that the most compelling arguments put forth on the Right in defense of the programs are:
1. Democrats are helping the terrorists.
2. The President is right.
3. You gotta problem with that?
Truly, this controversy is less about security than it is about faith. I offer this example from Right Wing Nut House [emphasis added]:
AG Gonzalez acquitted himself well but was at a huge disadvantage. Because of the secrecy of the program, he was unable to reveal details that could have buttressed his case that the Administrationâ€™s warrantless interception of American citizenâ€™s communications was inherently legal based on both exceptions to the FISA statute and the authority granted by the President by Congress when that body authorized the use of military force after 9/11.
Such a beautifully pure faith makes one want to weep. If only it weren’t so misplaced.
Not everyone on the Right is a true believer. Via Daou Report, there’s at least one rightie Doubting Thomas, The Lonewacko. See also “Conservative Scholars Argue Bushâ€™s Wiretapping Is An Impeachable Offense” at Think Progress.
Chalres Babington of the Washington Post reports that “activists” of the right and the GOP are splintering on the NSA issue.
GOP lawmakers and political activists were nearly unanimous in backing Bush on his Supreme Court nominations
Um, are we forgetting the Harriet Miers flap?
and Iraq war policy, but they are divided on how to resolve the tension between two principles they hold dear: avoiding government intrusion into private lives, and combating terrorism. The rift became evident at yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into the surveillance program, and it may reemerge at Thursday’s intelligence committee hearing.
Babington mentions Arlen Specter , Lindsey Graham, and the Cato Institute as among those breaking ranks with the Bush Administration. On the other hand …
Democrats making similar arguments [against the NSA program] have fallen under scathing attacks from some GOP lawmakers. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, put himself at odds with Specter last week after his panel questioned the director of national intelligence and the CIA director about the NSA program.
“I am concerned that some of my Democrat colleagues used this unique public forum to make clear that they believe the gravest threat we face is not Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, but rather the president of the United States,” Roberts said.
The argument could be made. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda can knock down buildings and kill people, but they can’t destroy the United States itself. The Bush Administration, on the other hand, is destroying our democratic institutions from the inside.
And the White House must be worried. Moonie Times auxiliary publication Insight says that Karl himself is making offers GOP politicians can’t refuse:
The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committeeâ€™s investigation of the administration’s unauthorized wiretapping.
Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.
Makes you wonder what they’re afraid of, huh?
Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in Novemberâ€™s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.
Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.
So far, only a handful of GOP senators have questioned Mr. Rove’s tactics.
How much political capital does Bush really have, though? Some congresspersons facing re-election this year might think it smarter to establish some distance between themselves and the White House.
See also — Today at 2:10 EST Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory will be debating John Hinderaker of Power Tool on NPR’s “To the Point.”Should be good. Also recommended, Audio clip: Comments by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek.
Update: See “What We Heard from the Attorney General” by Senator Russ Feingold at TPM Cafe.