Thursday, January 26, 2006

Slap The Liar – Another Much-Needed Fisking


Jacob Weisberg has an article up in 'Slate'. Yeah, if you have read Slate you know it tilts just a bit to Port, and the writers there are not all that big on scholarship, so a column regarding Constitutional Law is likely to miss the bullseye. This one, however, missed the whole target, the bale of hay it was sitting on, the barn behind the bale, and pretty much anything the author could be said to be aiming as the goal. Yet because the likely audience won’t catch the mistake, Weisberg will likely be thought of as on-target, simply because the audience will see what they want to see.

The article is titled “The Power-Madness of King George”, which is in no way accurate about the President, but at least correctly warns us about the large and false assumptions Mister Weisberg carries into the matter, a la BDS. So, I am taking it upon myself to note some of the more egregious errors in Weisberg’s article, and to respond as needed.

Weisberg can’t get past the second sentence of his article before his first lie. Says Weisberg; “President Bush believes he has the legal authority to order electronic snooping without asking anyone's permission.”. This is a lie on two levels. First off, it falsely conveys the notion that the President has a jones for “snooping” into people’s private lives just because he wants to. A fitting response would be from President Bush’s address at Kansas State University last week: “When the 9/11 terrorists were planning their attack, they made calls to and from Al Qaeda and their operatives inside the United States. So if a phone number connected to a member or supporter of Al Qaeda calls someone inside the United States, we want to know who they are calling, and why.” Second, Weisberg has such a low opinion of Executive authority, that he actually thinks the President of the United States needs so ask “permission” to do his job. A police office does not ask for the authority to pull over someone who is driving suspiciously; a parent does not ask for authority to see what his kids have in their backpack from school. And a President in wartime does not ask for permission to exercise his authority under Article II of the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Defending the country includes the use of intelligence, and the President directs certain specific conditions and actions, including the interception of communications to and from foreign agents. Mister Weisberg seems to be unaware that such practices were authorized by Presidents Clinton, and all the way back to the first President, George Washington, who paid for information regarding British conversations with Tories, and later the conversations between the Whiskey Rebels. Weisberg is on the wrong side of History, Security, and Common Sense.

Weisberg hopes that the “Senate hearings on NSA domestic espionage set to begin next month will confront fundamental questions about the balance of power within our system.” In English, that translates to mean that Weisberg hopes that the Senate will attempt to dilute or outright deny the President’s Constitutional power to wage the war as he is placed to do. Solely authorized, in fact. Weisberg thinks that committees are the answer, which suggests that Weisberg has never had to submit a work of importance to a committee. The circus of the Alito hearings, even when the outcome was known from the beginning, demonstrates that Senate hearings to judge actions which is neither the Senate’s jurisdiction, nor which will help win the war against Terrorism in any way, is foolhardy at best.

Weisberg leaves that lie be, and proceeds on to his next, claiming “Bush and his lawyers contend that the president's national security powers are unlimited.”


Care to explain where that is actually claimed, anywhere? The audience will understand that Mister Weisberg knows he is lying here. After all, if the White House did not feel the obligation to limit their actions and authority, they would not have filed literally thousands of FISA requests, nor made dozens of briefings to Congress regarding this program and other intelligence-gathering methods, nor discussed some of his actions in public speeches. In addition, the Article II actions undertaken by President Bush have been demonstrably restrained in number and scale, and always within the clear limits of National Security as defined by the objective of preventing another 9/11-style attack, just as Congress, the Public, and the 9/11 critics have been demanding. Weisberg, having seen these public documents, statements, and news reports, obviously knows this, which means that his implication that Bush is trying to assert unprecedented powers or to expand the boundaries of his office, is a deliberate mis-statement of the facts.

It truly says something about how truly Leftist Mister Weisberg is, that he submits a 42-page legal brief by the Justice Department, who know a thing or two about the Constitution and the Law, to a critique by “Andrew Cohen, a CBS legal analyst”. You know, CBS, the network which got caught trying to manipulate a federal election with forged documents a couple years ago? So it seems a bit ironic to me that Mister Weisberg described the White House, and not CBS, as “an elective dictatorship, governed not by three counterpoised branches of government but by a secretive, possibly benign, awesomely powerful king.” But then, by now it should be clear that Weisberg has an agenda, and he is quite ready to lie for its advance.

Weisberg, like the blind pig of the fable, actually makes a true statement next: “the president's powers as commander in chief make him the "sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs." This status, which derives from Article II of the Constitution, brings with it the authority to conduct warrant-less surveillance for the purpose of disrupting possible terrorist attacks on the United States.” Of course, this is not Weisberg’s opinion, but the Attorney General, whom Weisberg can only address as the “putative author” of the legal brief. This should have been obvious, however, by the fact that Weisberg knows so little about the Constitution that he has managed to oppose Constitutional provisions in his argument.

Rather than consider that the President in his own right represents an entire branch of government, equal in authority to the entire Congress or Federal judiciary, Weisberg dismisses Article II of the U.S. Constitution, declaring that it has a ewhat daffy monarchical undertone”.
Weisberg continues his fiction, to such a degree that he seems to believe that the only authority the President has in regards to intelligence collection resides in the provisions of FISA. That is, in Weisberg’s world the President can do nothing without the express consent of Congress, allowing the President of the United States less discretion in his job than the Senate cafeteria. There, at least, the cooks are allowed to choose what they will prepare and how. Weisberg does not want the President to decide how we will collect intelligence information, or from whom; he confuses the actions of the Justice Department in the prosecution of criminals, with the authority specifically granted to the President as Commander-in-Chief of the military. Weisberg throws out the old liberal canard that not agreeing to grant captured foreign terrorists the civil rights of U.S. citizens somehow equates to a desire to “excuse torture”. Weisberg, in true liberal hysteria, then speculates that the power to do his job might somehow allow President Bush to suggest “press censorship or arresting political opponents”. ‘Dishonest’ is hardly a strong enough word to describe the malice in Weisberg’s slander.

Weisberg, perhaps realizing he has crossed a line too far for even most liberals, then scuttles back at the end with a grudging claim that he does not “suggest that Bush intends anything of the kind—or that even a Congress as supine as the current one would remain passive if he went so far.”. But Weisberg’s hate against the President still reeks throughout his screed, continued proof of the anger from the Left that a Conservative President, once again, should prove effective in defeating America’s enemies.

It might be comforting to consider the possibility that Mister Weisberg was not fully himself when he wrote these lies and malicious slurs. Perhaps a bitter former employee broke in and wrote this slop under Weisberg’s byline, or perhaps a deranged monkey, such as appear to be writing Op-Eds for the New York and LA Times’, broke in and posted this rhetorical defecation. Alas for Mister Weisberg, a note at the end confirms not only that he wrote this hateful pack of lies. ‘Slate’ notes at the end of the article, that Weisberg misspelled the name of the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, which means that a co-editor corrected the spelling. Unfortunately, that note confirms that the article was presented as Mister Weisberg intended, and indeed as ‘Slate’ desired to present it. A deliberate mis-statement of Constitutional authority, a false and hateful portrayal of the White House and the President in particular, and a pathological denial of the need for vigilant security procedures in the era of global terrorism, are the hallmarks of ‘Slate’ magazine and the angry, truth-hating Mister Weisberg.

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