The T-word, the L-word —
    and our old friend Pat Roberts

We now know Bush’s line on the wiretaps: flog “terrorism,” vaguely assert legality—and trust the senator who can always be counted on to stonewall.

I called it: the Bush strategy on the NSA wiretaps is to flog the T-word and vaguely assert legality. (Article here; transcript here.)

We now have a “terrorist surveillance program,” and we can all breathe easier knowing that our President “had all kinds of lawyers review the process.” (He must have been worried: had they told him it was illegal, he would of course have had to stop.)

Special “laughter and applause,” according to the White House transcript, greeted the question, “You know, it’s amazing, when people say to me, well, he was just breaking the law—if I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?” An excellent question. If I wanted to break the law, I might not, in fact, “brief Congress.” But I might leave most of Congress in the dark and confide instead in Senator Pat Roberts, Bush’s companion at his speech yesterday and a man demonstrably willing to work with Dick Cheney to stonewall Congressional investigations into intelligence matters. It was Roberts’ stonewalling that provoked Harry Reid into throwing Congress into a closed session last fall to force some answers.

They’ve thrown their best pitch now. Time for us to swing. And time to see whether John McCain feels like playing catcher—or throws down his mask in disgust.

Author: Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.

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