What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 27, 2007

One Spy Program or Two?

That's what they're asking over at TPMCafe.

Alberto Gonzales' testimony that there was "no serious disagreement" within the Bush Administration about the NSA warrantless surveillance program has left senators sputtering and fulminating about the attorney general's apparent prevarications. But a closer examination of Gonzales' testimony and other public statements from the Administration suggest that there may be a method to the madness.

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that Gonzales's careful, repeated phrasing to the Senate that he will only discuss the program that "the president described" was deliberate, part of a concerted administration-wide strategy to conceal from the public the very broad scope of that initial program. When, for the first time, Program X (as we'll call it, for convenience's sake) became known to senior Justice Department officials who were not its original architects, those officials -- James Comey and Jack Goldsmith, principally -- balked at its continuation. They did not back down until the program had undergone as-yet-unspecified but apparently significant revisions. But when President Bush announced what he would call the "Terrorist Surveillance Program' in December 2005, he left the clear impression that the program had always functioned the same way since its 2001 inception.

It's always nice to see Hamlet referenced in the news. In the play, Polonius notices a certain rationality in Hamlet's seeming insanity:
Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't. (Hamlet II, ii, 206)
But let's get back to the current madness, this administration.

It's an interesting article. The main point being that the domestic surveillance program as originally conceived and put into operation is very different from the one dubya described in Dec, 2005.
In essence, the issue is this: if Gonzales succeeds in convincing the committee that there really is a material distinction between the program as it existed before and after Comey’s intervention, he won't just save himself from perjury. He will perhaps have preserved an administration strategy of concealing the scope of Program X from the public and most of Congress -- making it appear that the program that Bush disclosed in December 2005, incorporating Comey's objections, is the same program that existed since October 2001, long before Comey put the brakes on at least some aspects of it. That may be at the heart of the White House's claim of executive privilege to prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from seeing documents detailing the genesis of Program X.
I don't think I'm following this, however as there seems to be a contradiction. If Gonzales succeeds in convincing the committee there is a distinction between the programs (pre- and post- Comey's intervention), then he will possibly be preserving the administrations strategy of concealing the scope of the program as originally implemented and keeping up the appearance that the two programs (pre- and post-Comey's intervention) are the same?

Am I reading it wrong? Am I reading too deeply? Should I just drink the kool-aid and blame it all on Clinton (doesn't matter which - Hill or Bill) and the "Democrat Congress" instead?


Scmuck Shitrock said...

Since we are doing the Bard today, Dayvoe, let me suggest that you are trying to discern an intelligible pattern out of
a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Recall that Ol' Bill described the idiot as
a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more

To think that Shakespeare foresaw Dubya's reign across five centuries. Precient.

dayvoe said...

Macbeth Act V, scene v.

Macbeth has just heard about the death of his wife, Lady Macbeth. Everything they planned is for nothing. It's the ultimate nihilist speach.