I tuned in as Fred Honsberger was (as Newt Gingrich would say) defending the indefensible. As he was parroting the administration's line on the latest NSA domestic surveillance scandal, he made a few flubs along the way - which is surprising for my friend Fred.
He danced the "yes, a crime was committed - the crime was the leak" dance and he pointed out the Washington Post poll that says, according to Fred, that 63% of Americans believe that finding terrorists is more important than privacy.
Then he gave an example. He said that if a known terrorist (say, al-Zarqawi) was calling a number in, (say in Brooklyn), the NSA is collecting data to see what other numbers (domestic numbers) are also calling the number that terrorist had called. If there's a pattern, then that's the beginning of an investigation. Fred did get this part right, the investigation would then be the other NSA domestic spying scandal - listening in (warrant free) on those phone calls.
But weren't we told that the NSA was only targeting international calls? Lesley Cauley, the USAToday reporter that broke this story wrote:I
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."So according to Fred's example (or at least his understanding of the NSA domestic surveillance) they CAN use the data to listen in on domestic calls - something that his president said the NSA wasn't doing.
As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
Who's wrong? Who's lying? It's difficult to tell through all the right-wing BS.
Fred also played "the IRS" card. I guess he was trying to say we shouldn't be worried about the NSA's collecting the nation's phone records becase the government already knows so much more about us - via the IRS.
Then he interviewed Judge Andrew Napolitano. I can't say that I have any insight into why Fred Honsberger, conservative radio talk-show host would choose to interview a judicial analyst from Fox News, a conservative news source, but I would assume (and this is just an assumption) that he was betting on an politically agreeable interview.
No dice. I'm also guessing that when Judge Napolitano began to speak, Fred's jaw hit the floor.
He called the program that Fred was just defending "a blatant and brash violation of civil liberties" and added later on that it was downright "Stalin-istic" how this government (the government that Fred was defending) was taking away our liberties. He asserted our right to privacy and went on to correct my friend Fred on a number of other things.
For instance when Fred tried to play the IRS card with someone who knows something about the law, Napolitano spanked him - spanked him real good. Turns out that Congress has passed a number of laws barring the IRS from leaking any of that information to anyone (even someone else in the government). If they do, they could go to jail for up to 10 years, Napolitano said.
Napolitano did say that the current program is "legal, but unconstitutional." Legal because it's supported by the USAPatriot act, but unconstitutional because according to a Fox News judicial analyst the USAPatriot Act is unconstitutional.
Napolitano said that if they're listening to phone conversations without a warrant, they're breaking the law.
Napolitano even got a few criticisms in on our current 29% President. He said that Bush likes to defend his domestic spying programs with a "members of Congress were fully informed" line.
This, Napolitano said, is legally meaningless. the members of Congress who were informed were barred from informing other members of Congress. So there was no Congressional debate on the matter. And anyway, he added, informing the Congress of an illegal matter does not make it legal.
I am guessing, though I could be wrong, that Fred Honsberger didn't get the interview he was planning on.
Sorry, Fred. Ya got spanked.