Detention, according to Justice Oâ€™Connor's opinion, is a fundamental incident of waging war. And the NSA electronic surveillance of Al Qaeda, argues Gonzalez, is "even more a fundamental incident of war" than detention.
While reasonable people can debate whether President Bush is correct in his interpretation of the law, it is extreme to conclude that he deliberately violated the law or usurped authority with his NSA surveillance program.
The president made clear that he established his surveillance program only after studied advice of legal counsel. He also briefed members of Congress, from both parties, at least a dozen times on the program. And when the practice was publicized through a despicable, nation-damaging leak, President Bush did not deny engaging in the practice but heartily defended it.
The presidentâ€™s critics would be well advised to understand the distinction between constitutional criminal procedure and wartime powers. In the situation of the NSA surveillance program, as well as a host of other wartime activities undertaken by the government, the critics want to confer full-blown constitutional rights on our enemy. President Bush was adamant that his surveillance is not targeting U.S. citizens but only members of Al Qaeda or those affiliated with or supporting it.
Thank God we have a president who is mindful of his dual and sometimes conflicting obligations of protecting our civil liberties and our national security. The absence of attacks on our soil and the absence of major civil-rights encroachments of U.S. citizens since 9/11 show that he has negotiated a finely tuned balance between the two concerns. The presidentâ€™s critics, by contrast, seem to be concerned with civil liberties -- for our wartime enemies no less -- to the exclusion of national security concerns.
Seriously: Why do they always seem inclined to sympathize with the enemy?
The president reminds us that he took an oath to protect and defend the United States, and that is precisely what he is trying to do. His critics seem determined to handcuff him from honoring his oath in every way possible while simultaneously castigating him for not doing enough.
In the end, their concern is neither civil liberties nor national security but the personal destruction of a president dedicated to defending the United States of America and her citizens. In their pursuit to recapture power, all other interests must be sacrificed.
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