PolySciFi Blog

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Gonzales Translation

If you didn't watch Gonzales's disingenuous defense of NSA's wiretapping allegations, you'll want to check out Concurring Opinions for a translation:
GONZALES: While FISA is appropriate for general foreign intelligence collection, the president made the determination that FISA is not always sufficient for providing the sort of nimble early-warning system we need against Al Qaida. . . . Just as we can't demand that our soldiers bring lawyers onto the battlefield, let alone get the permission of the attorney general or a court before taking action, we can't afford to impose layers of lawyers on top of career intelligence officers who are striving valiantly to provide a first line of defense by tracking secretive Al Qaida operatives in real time.

TRANSLATION: A simple syllogism. FISA requires judicial oversight. Judicial oversight requires courts. Courts require lawyers. And everybody hates lawyers, right?


GONZALES: Our enemy is listening. And I cannot help but wonder if they aren't shaking their heads in amazement at the thought that anyone would imperil such a sensitive program by leaking its existence in the first place, and smiling at the prospect that we might now disclose even more or perhaps even unilaterally disarm ourselves of a key tool in the war on terror.

TRANSLATION: In our “democracy,” our government can’t operate in secret and has to explain itself to the people. Why are we being so dumb? The terrorists are laughing at us.
H/T Wonkette. Seriously, though: Gonzales's testimony was filled with crazy appeals to emotion like the "our enemy is listening..." speech, absolute refusal to speak frankly about what the government was up to, disingenuous misrepresentations of what FISA means (and what pre-FISA presidential precedents meant) and, in general, the kind of legal argument that might be persuasive to the jerks at Power Line, but shouldn't impress anyone who isn't desperately trying to find legal loopholes to allow this kind of nonsense. For a more detailed critique of the Justice Department's defense of the program, try this letter to congress (PDF). I also recommend Orin Kerr's posts on this at the Volokh Conspiracy (keep scrolling).


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