As Michael Barone notes today in today’s must-read piece, the 1970s were:
“The decade in which a Republican president imposed wage and price controls, the decade when we managed to have inflation and recession — stagflation — at the same time. The decade when crime and welfare dependency zoomed upward. A decade when Americans saw our diplomats seized — an act of war — and no effective force used to free them. A decade when a president was forced to resign in disgrace and when America lost its first war.”
You’d think we’d be glad that that low, dishonest decade is gone, no? No. Barone continues:
“But for some people, it seems to be the ’70s all the time. After The New York Times revealed on Dec. 16 that the National Security Agency was monitoring telephone calls from suspected terrorists abroad to people in the United States, a hue and cry went up from the mainstream media and some Democrats that the Bush administration was engaged in a massive and illegitimate program of domestic wiretapping. Never mind that few if any wires were tapped — it’s likely that most of these calls were on cell phones — and that every one of the calls was by definition international.”
Yes, there are some serious people who argue that the program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (that slum of a decade again) because warrants were not obtained. But no serious person doubts that the president can order surveillance of enemy communications in time of war. And it doesn’t make much sense to listen in on enemy communications but to hang up when a call is made to someone in the United States.