'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The First President to Admit to an Impeachable Offense 

Barbara Boxer just sent a letter to four "presidential scholars" asking whether the scholars believe Bush can be impeached for authorizing the NSA spying program. The genesis of Boxer's actions apparently was a conversation with John Dean in which Dean called Bush "the first president to admit to an impeachable offense."

Meanwhile, on CNN and elsewhere Republican spokespeople seem to be suggesting as a sort of a meta-talking point that the NSA spying story will ultimately play well for Bush, that it is surprising that the Democrats are pushing the story so strongly when it can so easily be spun into a pro-Bush strong-on-terrorism narrative -- see, for instance, here. The idea of taking something negative and spinning it into a positive story is pure Karl Rove, and probably would have worked just fine a year ago. The problem for Bush apologists, however, is that times have changed. In order to pull off this sort of Rovian jujitsu you need to have absolute loyalty and message discipline among your foot soldiers, which is exactly what the Republicans no longer have. How are the spin doctors going to paint Democrats as wishy-washy terrorist-lovers on this issue when Lindsey Graham is running around implying that the program amounts to "set[ting] aside the rule of law"? The congressional opposition to the program includes a number of Republicans: Hagel and Snowe are joining Democrats in calling for a joint investigation by the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees, and apparently Specter is already on board.

Anyway, it's a curious story. The question is why did the Bush administration do what it did? It's pretty mysterious and I think that BushCo is acting a little bit more freaked out by this story than it acts about any old run-of-the-mill scandal, but maybe that's my imagination. I'm sure you have all read about the Bush administration's defense of its actions elsewhere so I need not go into it here i.e. Why is speed being used as a reason to make an end run on FISA when FISA warrants are routinely issued retroactively? etc. Since the official explanation makes no sense one starts to wonder if it's the identity of the targets of the spying that the White House is concerned about concealing. John from AMERICAblog was the first to speculate that the NSA might have been tapping conversations between US journalists and Middle-Eastern sources, and today Robert Parry wonders if the targets may have been "political opponents or journalists, rather than terrorists."

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?