January 02, 2006

Perfectly Good Reasons to Let Al Qaeda Run Around the U.S.

John at Americablog asks a question about the President's statement "that some of the calls he's illegally tapping are being made FROM the US and that the people making them are Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda affiliates":

Really? So now there are Al Qaeda members and Al Qaeda affiliates inside the United States making phone calls, we know who they are, and:

1) Bush is letting known terrorists and known terrorist affiliates roam around our country free, which begs the question: Why aren't they under arrest?

There's a very good answer to that question (and not the one he's expecting): so we can eavesdrop on and follow them around, hoping they'll lead us to other (read: more important) targets.

That's kind of a dumb question, really. Deep breath time. Say it with me non IR people: yes Virginia, there is a need to spy.

As we've said here before, and repeatedly in comments, we of all people are not ones to take dogmatic pacifist positions, especially about international conflict. However there are a couple of simple rules we would like the government to follow. First, if you're gonna do it, do it right. Second, if you're gonna do it, follow the law, or use the effing democratic process to amend the law so that you can follow the law. Third, above all else, respect the Constitution.

Now, that's not so hard, is it?

Oh wait, apparently for our administration, it is.

And in completely petty snark mode, negative points assigned to the original post for misusing "begging the question." I'm going to have to get all Inigo Montoya in a minute.

Posted by binky at January 2, 2006 05:42 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Petty Rants


UPDATE: And lest someone get the wrong impression that I think Bush is OK on this, remember that takings-to-task of the last couple of weeks. Steve Gilliard is more scathing (which is why I read him, of course) about how useless it is to eavesdrop on Osama's cousins and other relatives.

My point about the Americblog post is that we should not get our knickers so twisty that we [insert cliche here: throw out the baby with the bathwater, miss the forest for the trees, etc and so forth]. There are perfectly good reasons to leave small fry terrorists wandering about - or to release them - and that for the Left to get so carried away that they run around saying "ooh! spying bad!" is dumb. Spying good. Or at least, spying normal, pragmatic and useful. As long as it's done following the law. And I have seen no evidence to suggest to me that the law (i.e. FISA) would have prevented the administration from doing what it needed to do to "git 'er done."

Don't take your eye off the ball to wander off on irrelevant points regarding known Al Qaeda members traipsing around Iowa. That's a non-starter, a distraction, and a perfectly legitimate intelligence move.

Shit, why am I the one doing all this intel stuff lately? I'm the political economy IR person. Baltar! Get your ass over here and get to work.

Posted by: binky at January 2, 2006 06:38 PM | PERMALINK

Great post.

Spying is key in this whole thing. And, quite frankly, I still would've complained a little about the NSA program if they had run it for a few months and then gotten the laws changed so that they were working above board.

But I think, I, like so many others, would have forgiven it in the months after 9-11 if the program had eventually been legalized in some way.


Posted by: mikevotes at January 2, 2006 07:26 PM | PERMALINK

True, and then we could have complained about the democrat lickspittles who rolled over for fear of appearing unamerican (assuing theywould have). But then at least there would be some oversight, some possibility of interjecting non-executive branch authority.

That's one of the great things about democracy. There are so many opportunities to screw things up, but that might just be what saves us all from worse options.

Posted by: binky at January 2, 2006 07:33 PM | PERMALINK
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