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The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sorry all - I've been travelling and my blogging time has been restricted by work demands but I'm back at it with a new post.

I turn on Hardball while I work out every night.  For some reason, the fact that Matthews has representatives from each side and the sheer absurdity of what the Republican representative usually says makes me push myself and exercise even harder.  ;-)  Anger is a powerful motivator I suppose.

Last night Matthews had Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen and Republican advisor Ben Ginsberg.  They talked about a variety of subjects beginning with the Alito nomination and then moving to the subject of NSA wiretaps.

Make the jump to see the question Matthews asks which caused me to write him.


MATTHEWS:  We`re back with Republican strategist and former counselor to President Bush, Ben Ginsberg; and Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen.

I want to talk about something that most Americans argue about all the time, which is what kind of a country we want to live in?  A country where security is very good, almost perfect and a country in which we have more freedom but the security is not so good?

According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 46 percent of Americans think the Bush administration is right to wiretap without a court order.  That`s a 4 percent drop from two weeks ago.  So if look at--hold up that number for a while there--it`s clear that over the last several weeks, last two weeks, that the president`s losing this argument, Hilary,  about whether he should be allowed to do surveillance electronically without a court order.

Ok, fine.  An interesting question to pose to both of these people on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  Their responses were what you would expect and I'm not going to highlight them - you can find the whole transcript here if you're interested.  What both interests and bothers me is the question.  So I wrote a letter to Matthews:

Dear Mr. Matthews,

I had the pleasure of meeting you and hearing you speak at a conference of government and industry IT executives a few weeks before the 2004 Presidential election.  I have always held you in high regard, even when I don't specifically agree with the point-of-view you are taking.

I'm baffled, however, at your line of questioning on the subject of NSA wiretaps.  It seems that the conversation has boiled down to whether or not the wiretapping is legal.  That is an important question, to be sure, and one which a careful study of the history and emergence of FISA would answer.

It comes down to a simple question, though, when asking about the Presidential order for secret NSA wiretapping.  Why?  Why was it necessary to go around FISA?  Why do the NSA's activities require a broad and risky (and tenuous) legal interpretation rather than utilizing the facilities already provided by FISA?  If FISA is insufficient, why were changes not proposed by the administration to Congress?


That is the ONLY question that really matters.  It's more important than the legality, it's more important than granular assessments of the Constitution.  The answer to whether or not we should trust the President's judgment and trust that he is NOT trampling on our Constitutionally protected rights lies in the answer to the question of "why".  An answer the administration has been unwilling to provide.

Will you not stand up and ask it and ask it and ask it until you get a satisfactory answer??

Best Regards,

Don't flame me for the "high regard" comment.  I decided to take the tack of catching more flies with honey as opposed to vinegar.  And I will say for the record that the speech he gave at the conference I attended was outstanding and extremely thought provoking and he was kind enough to stay behind and speak to each one of us who desired a word after.

I don't understand the gnat-like attention span of the TV media on this subject.  They're like infants with shiny things waved in front of their face.  The conversation has been shifted to the legality of the wiretapping and away from the crux of the issue - why pull a "new" method out of your ass when a fully vetted, clear and legal method already exists?

I don't know if it will have any affect, but it was worth writing.  You can click here if you want to write his show on this subject as well as on the subject of Rep. Slaughter's diary, which is currently on the recommended list.

posted by RenaRF at 1:04 PM 0 comments links to this post


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