Bush in Familiar Role -- the Artful Dodger

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bush in Familiar Role -- the Artful Dodger

Slate.com's John Dickerson identifies three topics from Thursday's presidential press conference as examples of how President Bush plays the role of artful dodger. Dickerson writes:
The president was asked six questions about the NSA's warrantless eavesdropping, which he carefully calls a "terrorist surveillance program." The questions and answers hopped around over well-worn territory.

Finally, Bush played the trump card that shuts off further discussion: To talk any more about the program, or even consider legislation to codify it, would help the terrorists. This doesn't avoid the question so much as it makes asking too many pointed ones an act of treachery.

"This program is so sensitive and so important that if information gets out to how we do it, how we run it, or how we operate, it will help the enemy," he said. "I think the American people understand that. Why tell the enemy what we're doing, if the program is necessary to protect us from the enemy?"

It's very hard to get past such a statement, which is why the issue has the potential to work for the president politically. Any Democrat or Republican who wants to poke at the premises behind Bush's assertion is helping the terrorists.

Ultimately, Bush demands that we trust that he has asked the questions for us. He says it's legal and our civil liberties are protected. How does he know? He's asked his own staff. He asked Al Gonzales, now his attorney general, and other administration lawyers ...
True, Bush has sought the counsel of the infamous Alberto Gonzales, author of the memorandum stating that the use of torture by U.S. authorities on suspected terrorists "may be justified."

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