Op-ed pages and blogs around the country are bleeding with palpable outrage, as the country wakes up to exactly what happened when Congress radically expanded surveillance powers. Most are asking the same question: faced with this atrocious legislation, how could its many opponents shrink from the moment and let it pass?
Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post has an excellent round-up of editorials and news reporting since the weekend. Here are a few choice bits from opinion pieces around the Web:
- The NY Times Editorial Page: "[T]he problem with Congress last week was that Democrats were afraid to explain to Americans why the White House bill was so bad and so unnecessary ? despite what the White House was claiming....
While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. Instead of explaining all this to American voters ? the minimal benefits and the enormous risks ? the Democrats have allowed Mr. Bush and his fear-mongering to dominate all discussions on terrorism and national security."
- The Washington Post Editorial Page: "To call this legislation ill-considered is to give it too much credit: It was scarcely considered at all. Instead, it was strong-armed through both chambers by an administration that seized the opportunity to write its warrantless wiretapping program into law -- or, more precisely, to write it out from under any real legal restrictions."
- The LA Times Editorial Page:"That this flawed legislation was approved by a Democratic Congress is a reminder that many in the party are still fearful that they will be labeled 'soft on terror' if they don't give this administration what it wants when it wants it. But the party may be equally injured by the perception that it won't stand up for what it believes."
- Professor Jack Balkin:"Do not be mistaken: We are not hurtling toward the Gulag or anything that we have seen before. It will be nothing so dramatic as that. Rather, we are slowly inching, through each act of fear mongering and fecklessness, pandering and political compromise, toward a world in which Americans have increasingly little say over how they are actually governed, and increasingly little control over how the government collects information on them to regulate and control them. Slowly, secretly and imperceptibly, the mechanisms of government surveillance are being freed from methods of political control and accountability; and the liberties of ordinary citizens are being surgically removed under a potent anesthesia concocted from propaganda, fear, ignorance and apathy."
- Salon's Glenn Greenwald: "Those who fail to defend [the Constitutional] framework, or worse, those who are passively or actively complicit in its further erosion, are all equally culpable. With each day that passes, the radicalism and extremism originally spawned in secret by the Bush presidency becomes less and less his fault and more and more the fault of those who -- having discovered what they have been doing and having been given the power to stop it -- instead acquiesce to it and, worse, enable and endorse it."
- Meteor Blades at DailyKos, speaking directly to Democratic leadership: "Weak is bad enough. Must you be simpletons as well? How many times has he [The President] marketed this crap? How many times have you bought it? Do you also fall for those late-night $19.95 television deals for a double-set of knives that never need sharpening?"