President Wiretap

Along with the usual bills and flyers for bargain pizzas cluttering my mailbox yesterday was an envelope screaming:

SENATOR “WIRETAP”
what she could teach President Bush about serious snooping

I open it up to find a letter from Bill Buckley, using rather more underlining and fewer 11-syllable words than one usually associates with National Review’s founder.  It’s a direct mail pitch for the magazine, and in it I learn what the envelope’s shouting about.  It seems that Senator Clinton “twice employed Tony Pellicano, the Hollywood-based ex-con famous for using wiretaps, hand grenades, and plastic explosives in his, ah ‘inquiries.‘ “ 

I stopped following Clinton scandals after Bill Clinton left office, so I don’t know the story NR’s referring to, but it sure sounds disturbing.   And remember the Travel Office Scandal?  (I do, sort of).  Hillary really sounds like the sort of person you wouldn’t want to grant unlimited wiretap authority for anything she chooses to label “national security.”  Tough, says NR legal guru Andrew McCarthy (along with virtually everyone else who’s written about FISA for the magazine):

The president’s constitutional authority is inviolable — it cannot be reduced by mere legislation. When Congress passes a statute, like FISA, that purports to reduce the president’s constitutional authority, it is Congress, not the president, that is trampling the rule of law. A president who ignores such a statute is not a law-breaker; he is a defender of the highest law.

Judging by fundraising and polls, “Senator Wiretap” may well succeed GWB as “defender of the highest law.”  And then we’ll see if NR’s right about her teaching President Bush a thing or two about “serious snooping.”  

I feel like there’s a lesson in here somewhere, but I’m too distracted by Ted Kennedy jokes to figure it out. 

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