Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to explain the Bush Administration’s contention that the
Terrorist Surveillance Program warrantless wiretapping is legal. He claims that the Constitution’s presidential powers and statutory powers granted by the Congress authorize warrantless wiretapping. In the past month he’s offered other justifications, which I suspect were dictated by the day of the week, as I can’t find any other coherent pattern. It was necessary that the Judiciary Committee challenged Attorney General Gonzalez, because it’s apparent to me that the warrantless wiretapping violates the Constitution.
Better analysis can be found elsewhere explaining why, so instead I want to focus on this peremptory editorial in today’s Opinion Journal by Attorney General Gonzalez. Specifically, consider this excerpt:
The president, as commander in chief, has asserted his authority to use sophisticated military drones to search for Osama bin Laden, to deploy our armed forces in combat zones, and to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives around the world. No one would dispute that the [Authorization for Use of Military Force] supports the president in each of these actions.
It is, therefore, inconceivable that the AUMF does not also support the president’s efforts to intercept the communications of our enemies. …
Sorry? What was that? I don’t follow that “A” leads to “B” logic. The legality is arguably more nuanced than I’m about to render it, but as his argument’s logic is absurd, I feel uncompelled to comply with any notion of realisitc outcomes. So, carrying that argument to its logical conclusion, why is it not acceptable for the president to use sophisticated military drones to search for al Qaeda terrorists in the United States? Let’s assume we allow the warrantless wiretapping. We want to win the war, right? We shouldn’t prevent the president from using any and all measures at his disposal, right? What harm would a few drone flights be, especially if I’m innocent?
Or do we accept that the rules are different for international and domestic actions, since American citizens (who are presumed innocent) are involved? Logic is a cruel master when you’re honest.