Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Defense is a partisan act

Jerry Stratton, February 11, 2006

On MSNBC.com, Jonathan Alter complains that:

For crass political reasons—namely to advance his position on the National Security Agency spying story—the president chose to use a speech to the National Guard Association to disclose details of a 2002 “shoe bomb” plot to blow up the U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles.

The “crass political reasons” are to defend the NSA spy program against media allegations that it’s wrong. I haven’t been following the story much. Most of what I “know” I get from the mainstream media, so I don’t know, for example, if this is an example of NSA spying. But Bush clearly declassified this information as an example of what he thinks the NSA program is useful for.

He didn’t declassify this information during the last election. He could have, and it would have made his “foiled plots” list much more effective. He didn’t declassify it to gain political capital for spending on Bolton or Miers. He could have done that also. He didn’t even declassify it to gain support for the Patriot Act.

There are many times when he could have declassified information like this for partisan use. Instead, he chose to declassify it so as to defend a program he thinks is useful, against media attacks. I’m not going to comment on the other aspects of why this might be right or wrong, but I can’t see how it’s partisan, unless Jonathan Alter thinks that the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other major news organizations covering the NSA program are also partisan.

Even then, defending yourself (or your program) against a partisan attack is not itself necessarily partisan. Alter appears to want the White House to not respond to attacks on the program with examples of why they think the program is useful.

  1. <- Blame Canada
  2. Cronkite for the DPA ->