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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reading the Handwriting on the Wiretap?

We learn this morning from Josh that tea leaf reading may be in high gear for Republicans on the illegal NSA surveillance.
Heather Wilson is a Republican from a tenuous swing district centered around Albuquerque. (Today her opponent released a poll showing her tied in the low-40s in her race for reelection.) Every position Wilson takes is finely calibrated to keep her politically well-positioned since she'll probably never have a truly easy race in her district. You may remember that early last year we had some fun trying to get her to actually come clean on whether she would reveal her position on phasing out Social Security.

Is this just a decision on the merits in her role as subcommittee chair? Or does she have a read on the politics going into November?
Josh is talking about the article in today's NYTimes, which features Rep. Wilson's concerns about the illegal NSA activities and her call for oversight hearings in the House. (One has to wonder how Karl is dealing with such insurrection in the ranks, but I digress...)

The Administration has trotted out Dick Cheney to frighten the troops into submission.
But "we have all the legal authority we need" already, he said, and a public debate over changes in the law could alert Al Qaeda to tactics used by American intelligence officials.

"It's important for us, if we're going to proceed legislatively, to keep in mind there's a price to be paid for that, and it might well in fact do irreparable damage to our capacity to collect information," Mr. Cheney said.
Hmmm...or is Cheney's real fear of a price being paid that of Mr. Bush's job -- should the dreaded "i" word continue to gain momentum with folks on the Hill who are now genuinely worried that the President may have, in fact, committed felonies, along with multiple members of his national security staff. At what point did the Republican party become all about their own fear and the hell with the Constitution?

CNet News spends some time detailing the technical possibilities of domestic spying via the telecom and internet access portals, and the picture they paint is a substantial web of information gathering. I don't have the technical know-how to fully interpret some of their inferences, but if any of our readers who do have the technical expertise could give this a read and comment, I'd be grateful. I think we will all benefit from a better understanding of potential ways and means with this issue.

And if you read nothing else, today, take a peek at David Ignatius' op-ed regarding the difference between men who serve as President and boys who play at being king. That national security matters should not be turned into a partisan shouting match but, instead, ought to be a bi-partisan concern over the balance between civil liberties and national security, and the balance of power between our branches of government, ought to be obvious to everyone. That the Machiavellian-lite machinations of Karl Rove have taken over the coarsened discourse should come as no surprise -- but they ought to be called for what they truly are: cowardly attempts to change the subject from the truth to anything else.


That Republicans are looking toward the 2006 elections this Fall, and seeing some handwriting on the wiretap that says to question the President is a bad sign for this Administration. Here's hoping it is a sign of more things to come.

(Photo via Murali and Nandini's Photoblog. Great shot, done with some excellent perspective and detail.)

UPDATE: Meant to highlight this as well, so thanks to John Casper in the comments for the reminder. Glenn Greenwald has a good think piece up today on what next with the illegal NSA domestic spying and the Democratic and netroots response. It's worth a read and quite a bit of discussion.

UPDATE #2: Laura Rozen has a very important graphic up on the subject. Go and read. You'll thank me later.