Thursday, December 29, 2005

Remember, William Kristol Once Worked For Dan Quayle

If Kristol is one of those in charge of injudiciously directing history's actors, then he needs to learn the script a little better. Otherwise reality is going to keep heckling from the nose-bleed seats and there won't be a damn thing he can do about it.

Last week in reference to his op-ed justifying the wiretap program, we wrote:

The example Kristol gives - in which the Justice Department felt they didn't have enough to get a FISA warrant to monitor one of the 9/11 plotters - actually raises more questions about the competence of Ashcroft's Justice Department and thus Bush's leadership. It does not demonstrate a need for more executive power.

Looks like we were more right than we thought (and we thought were were pretty right). Via ThinkProgress, according to Coleen Rowley, the Justice Department never saw existing evidence that could have lead to obtaining a FISA warrant. Oh sure, you could draw the inference this was caused be that damned ol' bureaucracy (and those annoying checks and balances). However, there's another inference you could draw, which is that Ashcroft and his boss were incredibly ineffective at making the existing process work. One could go further and suggest that, after reading that infamous PDB of August 6, 2001, an effective executive would have done what Richard Clarke calls "shaking the trees". Bush could have gotten the heads of various agencies together and forced them to start collaborating and sharing information. That Bush didn't see fit to do this (and had to wait for planes to crash into buildings and kill 3000 people on US soil before taking any action) is yet one more reason not to give him more power. Presidentin' is hard, but it's harder when you're not up to the job.

One more thing struck us as we re-read Kristol's statement. Kristol is using pre-9/11 events to justify post-9/11 behavior that was - and this is being charitabe - extra-legal. What this suggests is that Kristol would have been in favor of giving the executive that kind of power before we had even been attacked. That Kristol would prefer an incompetent executive have more power than necessary in peace-time tells you all you need to know about his and his ilk's level of respect for the people of the United States and our Constitution.
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