But the notion that the program was "carefully crafted to safeguard civil liberties" was a leap of faith - and conservatives used to assume the opposite: that liberty needed to be guarded against government. There was no judicial approval of these searches and no congressional oversight of the program, but the side of the aisle once distrustful of federal schemes nodded blind assent.
Was it so long ago that prominent conservatives vigorously opposed Bill Clinton's power grabs and his trampling of due process? Or was there a hidden asterisk noting that government power should only be limited when Democrats occupy the White House? Now security trumps - or, in reality, political promises of security. Or perhaps, like the prior proclamations of fidelity to limited government, the fixation on safety is simply another ruse to smear liberals and spur donations.
The Bush administration simplified the issue: freedom of the press kills. Snow warned that "the New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether the public's right to know, in some cases, might overwrite somebody's right to live." Treasury Secretary John Snow, in a letter to Bill Keller, denounced the Times article as "irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide." "Freedom-loving people" thus becomes a trump card against the First Amendment. And "freedom of the press" threatens to become the single biggest obstacle to the U.S. government forcibly imposing freedom on the rest of the world.
Survival of the Republican congressional majority may hinge on suppressing criticism of administration policies, and this storm of media-bashing may be crafted to keep the lid on news about other government surveillance systems. Over a period of barely six months, leaks resulted in Americans learning that the feds were conducting thousands of warrantless phone taps in the U.S., that they had arm-twisted telephone companies to turn over the calling records of tens of millions of Americans, and that our government has been sifting through international banking records to its heart's content. National Journal recently revealed that the Bush administration is continuing to pursue Total Information Awareness, even though Congress compelled the formal abandonment of that program in 2003. The endless threats of treason prosecutions against whistleblowers, reporters, and editors may be a last ditch attempt to prevent Americans from learning about secret presidential orders that would make the NSA wiretapping look like kids' stuff (my em).
Just because much of the media is biased does not mean that the Bush administration is trustworthy. Perhaps it is naive to expect commentators to be more honest than politicians. But the "treason" stampede among right-wing talking heads indicates just how much conservatism has changed. And the Right's knee-jerk defense of every Bush power grab has so decimated their credibility that prominent conservatives will have as much standing to gripe about Leviathan during a reign of someone like Hillary Clinton as her husband has to complain that American culture no longer respects chastity.
I do agree with the author that the media is biased, insofar as it hasn't let truth interfere too awfully much with its blowing Bush until very recently, but I don't think he meant it that way. Heh.
It seems as if the real Conservatives, with whom I mostly disagree except on Big Government and some of their fiscal policy, are finally noticing that their party has been highjacked by neocons, wingnuts, and christo- as well as regular old fascists. And leave us not forget plain ol' morons. Reveille, motherfuckers!
Granted, the author seems to be against said coup mostly from the standpoint that the Repubs may lose their majority because of it, but he says it like it's a bad thing. The congresscritters are more concerned with the security of their seats than with national security. Then there's that jail thing...
I hate it when I have to agree with a Republican, but, hey, he's right about a lot of stuff here, even if he's right for the wrong reasons.