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George live

The man was on Larry King this evening and discussed many issues, one of which was the New York Times.

“I have a problem with people revealing state secrets…. With people revealing our game plan to the enemy…. We’re at war.”

All of this comes on the heels of a little “discussion” with my wife earlier this evening. She asked me, “You think it’s O.K. for people to reveal state secrets?” (“Discussion” is a diplomatic way of putting it. She hadn’t been reading my stuff lately… until tonight that is.)

My answer is a qualified “no.” I would guess (or hope) that 99.9 percent of all state secrets should remain secret. My qualification? When the secret is that the state is breaking the law, and particularly when WE are the ultimate victim of the potential crime. An argument can be made (although I reserve the right to disagree) that times have changed and new methods are necessary to protect ourselves (re: terrorism). That may be so, but the president does not have the right to make unilateral decisions to effectively change – or even supplement our existing laws. As I’ve read, that was the crux of the Supreme Court decision in Hamdan: the president essentially tried to make his own law when he authorized military commissions for Guantanamo internees. Arguably, the same can be said for some of the other actions authorized by the president – such as the ones reported by the Times. If times (note the small “t”) have changed and new methods are necessary to head off new dangers… here’s an idea: ask congress to change the law. Even better, propose a constitutional amendment which allows the President to invoke his war time powers without a Congressional declaration of war (as described in the constitution). Then we could stop farting around with these “authorizations to use force,” and semantic dances around “founding father intent.”

As you might guess, I personally would not support such changes – and neither would many others. Combine that with the likelihood that the president’s actions were not legal… and yeah, I think the Times was justified. Chances are there isn’t a single newscaster on Fox News who agrees.

In closing… imagine the havoc McCarthy could have wrought in the information age. Imagine if all he needed to do was query a database, compiled by the government, to pull everyone who has rented a “suspicious” number of Warren Beatty movies for questioning. It boggles the mind.

(Author’s note: Cheryl Kauffman has approved this message.)

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  1. As you may recall, the administration asked congress to change the law once already (concerning the government’s ability to fight terrorism). Remember the Patriot Act? At the time the Patriot Act was passed, in late 2001, the pump was primed (so to speak) to seek the kinds of authority the President wields now, so why didn’t they address it then? Public sentiment was clearly in their corner.

    I submit that they knew even then (with the terrifying images of New York still fresh in the public’s minds) that the public at large wouldn’t go for it, that they were over-reaching. Further food for thought.

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