Remember that question on This Week with George Stephanopoulos about wiretapping and the prosecution of George W. Bush’s gravest crimes?
With about 120 hours left in the current administration, a federal intelligence court has ruled that it is perfectly fine for the Executive branch to wiretap/intercept international phone calls and e-mails without a specific court order, even if American citizens are involved.
The court ruled the president was within his authority, and my hope is the Obama administration will use this as another tool to fight terrorists.
From the New York Times…
The decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.
So, what does that do for Bob Fertik, the man from New York who submitted the question? Fertik’s question did not just come from a New York citizen, it came from the Bob Fertik who co-founded democrats.com and is well known in progressive political circles.
I wonder why Stephanopoulos chose that particular question? It’s not a secret at all what Fertik does or who he is, but why was he just referred to as a guy from New York on a national network news program?
In his New York Times story on the case, Eric Lichtblau, who disclosed the existence of the warrantless surveillance program, sniffs that the court’s ruling “may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.” (emphasis added) I guess so. Rulings by appellate courts, by definition, give “legal credence” to the positions they embrace. And here we’re talking about a court with special expertise in the subject matter that is ruling on an essentially novel issue.
The court’s ruling may not be the final word, and it certainly doesn’t end the discussion. But Lichtblau’s “may offer legal credence” locution is embarrassing, and stands in sharp contrast to the familiar “in a crushing blow to the Bush administration. . .” type of language the MSM serves up when these kinds of cases go the other way.