Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Ben

Pete du Pont's opinion peace in today's WSJournal is one of the better and concise write ups on the history and legal precedence of the Presidents right to approve of the, now not so secrete, NSA eavesdropping program. I imagine it was Ted Kennedy's statement last week (along with it being Ben's 300 B-day) that gave du Pont the idea of taking this back to 1776. In response to the President using his constitutional powers to listen in on terrorist communications Kennedy called it "such an arrogant and expansive view of executive power" that it "would have sent chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers." As usual a vitriol spewing trust fund liberal has no facts and no history (and how about 300 yrs of history and precedence!) on their side. It's amazing how those who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and laws described in du Pont's piece ignore these and their historical interpretation all in the name of political smearmanship!


Anonymous said...

Hey Tiny,

I read and am interested in the writings of your blog, but I have to ask you something on the point of history. Getting beyond the issues of left/right politics which are often cyclical and boring, most historical scholars see the executive branch as a history of increasing and devolving power. When a crisis emerges (Civil War, WWII, 9/11) most nations have a reasonable tendency to provide power to the executive. At some point, the incredible executive power scares the public, Congress, and nation as a whole and the power devolves back. Examples of this are the backlash against FDR (an ammendment restricting the maximum terms of Presidency), the War Powers Ammendment in response to LBJ, Kennedy, and Nixon's expansive and questionable actions in Vietnam, and the Clinton impeachment (a general questioning of Clinton's administration and what many viewed as a hubristic attempt to have the federal government own American discourse).
Whether you agree with Kennedy on this issue, one must agree that power has re-emerged in the Bush administration. This might be valid if you believe the War on Terror warrants it. However, it seems inevitable that this power will devolve in this or a future administration.
My point in saying this is not to criticize you or your views. That's not particularly interesting or valuable. But instead, just as a food for thought, what do you make of this comment? It seems that Franklin, Jefferson, and many other Founders who were wary of over-centralization of power looked at these issues in depth and came to the conclusion that we must have controls on our executive.
To my view, the issue is not really in the details of wiretapping, the Patriot Act, or whatever. Those issues can be debated and with reasonable merit on all sides. But ultimately, I think we've hit a place where Congress is asking to restore power. Given that the Congress is largely Republican and interested in similar objectives as W., the only important consequence is more reasonable separation of powers. Thoughts? Please don't take this as hostile. I really want an honest response.

For what it's worth, I think Kennedy is an idiot and a disgrace to the Democratic party. As bad as Helms and Thurmond in their autumn years.

Tiny said...

I agree with you. The problem how do you have oversight of executive power without creating the very problem the founders considered...a leak? In 1776 when no where near as many people would be aware of a secrete operation as today. The size of the non-military personnel involved in government, intelligence, etc. is enormous. The technology involved (communications and computers) makes the data more vulnerable. And yet back in a time when things were much more simple they were concerned over how many would know about an operation. It's a tough problem today. I don't know the answer. But think about this. All Bush had to do was use a FISA judge and nobody cares? How hard is it to have one, or several judges, that are part of a special court on your side? Not very! It's funny that the public and the politicians who are all puffy over this would think if just a few more people knew about it then we will say its not an abuse of power!