Friday, December 16, 2005

R.I.P. Steely Resolve

When I was a kid, I seem to remember that conservatives professed a belief in limited government. I can't imagine what Barry Goldwater would make of today's story in the New York Times revealing that the President directly authorized the National Security Agency to spy on Americans at home.

The NSA was created to monitor communications overseas, primarily Soviet communications. They had many successes, including using an American submarine to tap a Soviet cable in the sea floor, and intercepting encrypted messages from Russian Embassies. This was a spy agency. But after September 11th, President Bush authorized them to tap the communications of Americans calling and e-mailing overseas. This was a sea change in their mission, and probably an illegal one.

Do conservatives have so little faith in America, in our way of life, that they will respond to one terrorist attack by dropping our nation's principles and running screaming for the nearest high-tech bunker? Are we so unsure of ourselves that we can be panicked into violating our own laws by a handful of men with boxcutters?

When the tube was bombed this year, the British reacted as they have always reacted, with reserve and (true) conservative restraint. The administration responded to Spetember 11th with all the restraint of a wounded elk. It's beyond embarrassing.

It's dangerous.

Remember that the next time you dial Paris or Tokyo or Montreal.


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