Friday, August 18, 2006

Post Script

Posted by codemorse

From Unclaimed Territory:

For the last four years, the Bush administration has deliberately violated multiple laws because it has adopted radical theories which vest law-breaking powers in the President. It also happens to be well on its way to obtaining the power to criminally prosecute journalists for articles they publish about the administration's conduct. And while all of that has been happening, the Washington Post Editorial Board has said virtually nothing about any of it, sitting idly by while the President vests himself with what George Will calls "monarchical" powers that (at least) rival terrorism as a threat to our country, and while Attorney General Alberto Gonzales casually speculates about putting Jim Risen and New York Times editors (and perhaps even the Post's own Dana Priest) into a federal prison, just as his most prominent supporters have been urging.

But at long last, the Post Editorial Board has finally found something to be outraged about -- the fact that the judicial opinion issued by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor yesterday isn't scholarly and "complex" enough for the intellectual tastes of Fred Hiatt. What really matters, says the Post in its unbelievably petty editorial, is not the profound constitutional crisis we face by virtue of a President who believes he has the power to act outside of the law and has been exercising that power aggressively and enthusiastically in numerous ways over five years. No, that is merely a fascinating intellectual puzzle, something for super-smart experts to resolve with great civility and high-minded, complex discussions as they ponder what the Post calls the "complicated, difficult issues" raised by the administration's lawlessness.

To the Post, what really matters here is how impressed law professors are with the complexity and nuance in Judge Taylor's written decision. Condescendingly scoffing at the judicial quality of her opinion is of infinitely greater importance than objecting to the growing extremism and lawlessness to which our country has been subjected.

....One of the many ironies here is that while the Post editors parade their hunger for a complex, scholarly discussion, they actually have no idea what they are talking about with regard to several of the most critical issues before the court. The Post tells us, for instance, that the administration (oh-so-surprisingly) does not agree with the court's conclusions, "nor is its dispute frivolous," and to prove that, points to "a broad congressional authorization to use force against al-Qaeda" which "the administration argues permits the wiretapping notwithstanding existing federal surveillance." But particularly in the aftermath of Hamdan -- which decisively rejected the administration's view of the AUMF -- the AUMF claim is not even a serious argument. The fact that the Post thinks it is (along with the fact that the Post never even once mentions Hamdan) demonstrates that they are hardly in a position to decree which judicial opinions are "neither careful nor scholarly."

....In the scheme of the profound issues our country faces, obsessing about the inartfulness of this judicial opinion is not unlike those who use a laughably grave tone to write articles about fights between Daily Kos diarists or the latest blogger "scandal" while ignoring our national media's grotesque failure to scrutinize meaningfully our government's conduct and claims -- particularly on matters of war and peace or threats to constitutional liberties.

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