The media and Libya – 2011-08-23 Quote of the Day

Tam has a post up about the ridiculousness of Teh Won claiming credit for the rebel victory in Libya. Jay G hits one out of the park on a related subject in the comments.

I would, however, like to know how much American money has been spent in Libya. The vanguard US press, who kept a rolling tally of both deaths and costs when the guy in the Oval office had an (R) next to his name, is strangely silent now…

That is a very good question. I’m sure there’s a perfectly valid reason that they’re not counting every penny being spent in Libya like they did for Bush in Afghanistan and Iraq – or, for that matter, a valid reason why the running totals for Afghanistan and Iraq suddenly and quietly got relegated to the back pages (if they get printed at all) shortly after the election.

I mean, it couldn’t be because the media is in the tank for Obama. That would be ridiculous!


What about Bush’s manners?

I’ve read a lot of comments about Virginia Senator-Elect Jim Webb’s “boorish” response to the President, but no one seems to have commented about the fact that the President also showed a lack of manners in that exchange. It seems to have started off politely enough. “How’s your boy” is a reasonable and courteous question to ask someone whose son has been deployed to a war zone. Mr. Webb, however, did not wish to discuss this topic with President Bush. So he attempted to redirect the conversation. (“I’d like to get them out of Iraq.”) Perhaps not the best response, but still, barely, within the bounds of courtesy. Here is where the President’s manners failed him. Instead of taking the hint and moving on President Bush not only repeated the question but bluntly (and rudely) called attention to the attempt at redirection. (“That’s not what I asked. How’s your boy?”) At this point Mr. Webb firmly, but equally bluntly, closed the topic. (“That’s between my boy and me.”) It should be noted that this is similar to the response he routinely gives reporters and others who ask about his son. Mr. Webb has, in fact, made it a point to not discuss his son with those outside his immediate circle.

Rudeness does not justify rudeness, but the President made it very difficult, if not impossible, for Mr. Webb to close the topic politely. I don’t know that I could have done any better. Could you?

On Wiretaps and Warrants

I’m not a flaming liberal, really, I’m not. I’m anti gun-control, anti-abortion, and for personal responsibility. But I do think Bush has gone too far. I just read Ann Coulter’s column “Why We Don’t Trust You With National Security” and it finally crystallized my annoyance with those defending the President on this issue.
The most annoying thing is that they are missing the point of the criticisms against the wiretapping program, which is that the government could have initiated the taps without a warrant and then obtained one later. There would be no delay, and the court is allowed by law to operate in secrecy, so security is not compromised by allowing the proceedings to become public record before it is necesary. If these phone calls were to or from numbers linked by evidence to terrorist organizations (as the President claims), that fact alone should meet the requirements of probable cause for a warrant to be issued.
I agree with Ms. Coulter that if someone is calling al-Zarqawi, then the government should be listening. But if we know that’s who they’re calling, then we have probable cause for a warrant. If we don’t know that’s who they’re calling, or that they themselves might be a terrorist, then why is the government listening to someone’s private conversation at random?
Ms. Coulter also tries to counter the argument that the FISA court rarely rejects wiretap requests by saying that the court has rejected them “like never before.” This may be true, that they have rejected more requests in the last four years than any years before, but even looking at the numbers she presents is telling. She states that in 2001 the court “modified 179 of the 5,645 requests.” That’s only 3.2% that were “modified.” It doesn’t tell us how many of those, if any, were rejected. For 2003-2004 she only gives us the number of requests that were modified, not how many were submitted, making that number meaningless in this argument. She quotes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as saying the court “modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.” We don’t know why or how these requests were modified (and rightly so; it is, after all, a secret court, and for good reasons), but we must entertain the notion that those requests did not show sufficient probable cause for what was requested.
In the final analysis, the President has created a legal tangle that, when finally straightened out, could result in the release of an unknown number of terrorists if the courts decide that the evidence leading to thier convictions was obtained illegally. In bypassing the courts he has, in the long run, actually compromised national security. He has also sown distrust of the government among it’s own law abiding citizens.
The sad part is, it could have been easily avoided just by doing a little paperwork.

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