I suppose we can start counting the seconds until the GOP flacks start calling Bobby Ray Inman (a career naval officer and former NSA Administrator) a shrill, partisan Democrat. As noted below, Inman has now said flatly in public that the NSA warrantless-wiretapping program “is not authorized” by law.
But “shrill, partisan Democrat” isn’t such a bad thing to be called these days. So the right wing needs a new term of abuse for those who offend against the Beloved Leader, and Charles Krauthammer has come up with it: “jihadist”. (No, Krauthammer’s disgusting and utterly unsupportable charge was not merely a slip of his over-worked tongue; he said the same thing on Hugh Hewitt’s show.)
Of course, when challenged on this, Krauthammer will explain that he didn’t really mean that CIA officers are Islamic terrorists, and that he was merely using “jihad” in its original sense of “struggle,” referring to people who struggled with the President. Or he’ll say that he merely meant to compare the intensity of their dislike of the President with the intensity of those in the Islamic world who preach and practice “jihad” against the west: that “jihadist” as he used it was merely a modernized synonym for “crusader.”
But equally of course, when Krauthammer says either of those things he’ll be lying through his teeth. “Jihadist” (properly “jihadi,” but who’s counting?) means in contemporary English someone who flies airplanes into tall buildings or commits murder/suicide by blowing himself up in a crowded marketplace. Krauthammer said, not once but twice, that dedicated career officers of the CIA, many of whom have risked their lives for their country in ways Krauthammer could never imagine, were effectively the same as our national enemies, the terrorist mass murderers of al-Qaeda. He, and his political allies, should never be allowed to forget it.
(I presume that Brad DeLong was speaking metaphorically rather than literally when DeLong said that Krauthammer was insane. Lithium isn’t a treatment for what’s wrong with Krauthammer, though exorcism might be. Not knowing Krauthammer, I can’t guess whether he’s someone in whom partisan hatred has now grown so strong as to deprive him utterly of both judgment and ordinary decency, or whether he’s merely a cynical careerist on the Morton Downey, Jr./Mike Barnicle/Bill O’Reilly model, spreading poisonous lies he doesn’t himself believe merely for money, status, and the semblance of power. But Krauthammer needs an editor or a spiritual guide, not a psychiatrist.)
From time to time, I’ve criticized people on my side of the aisle when I thought they were being unfair to our common opponents, and defended people on the other side of the aisle (as well as some not on the right of whom I strongly disapprove, such as Cynthia McKinney and Juan Cole) against what I regarded as unfair attack. Against that background, I’d like to call on the sensible people in Right Blogistan — you know who you are — to denounce this instance of repeated atrocious slander of people whose service to our country makes it impossible for them to fight back.
(If anyone spots criticism of Krauthammer by a right-of-center blogger, media figure, or politician, please send me the link.)
Update Eugene Volokh, unsurprisingly, puts his name at the head of what I hope will be a long honor roll.