In peace and in war, but especially in the latter, presidents have pressed their institutional advantages to expand their powers to act without Congress. This president might look for occasions to stop pressing.To which Radley says:
Will is nothing if not principled. He's one of the few conservative pundits out there who hasn't let red-blue cheerleading or knee-jerk anti-leftism blind him to the corruption, overreach, and lust for power shown by this Congress and this president. Wish there were more like him.I agree with Radley that George Will is principled, and I agree with Will that just because a Republian is in the Oval Office, conservatives should not become blind to abuses, or overreaches, of power. For those of us who are "knee-jerk anti-leftists" defending Bush against hyperbolic attacks becomes a matter of reflex and due consideration needs to be given whether Presidential authority has been stretched beyond its reasonble boundaries.
That said, lets keep in mind the atmosphere in which Bush was operating in during the course of this NSA program. There's a pretty fine group of "knee-jerk anti-Bushies" and conspiracy theorists, not to mention plenty of "respectable" critics of the administation and its ability to defend the country from terrorist attack. Would any president in that position have been willing to give up any intelligence gathering means that could prevent a legitimate threat? I doubt it.
I think it's pretty easy to justify the NSA program in the weeks and months immediately following 9-11, especially as we began to learn just how badly our intelligence organizations were failing. After that it's time to fix the system and make it work within the letter and spirit of the law. We ought to be producing enough data in a timely manner that Bush can get his (or Gonzalez's) ass in front of a judge.