Known Unknowns

Kevin Drum says Bush's lawbreaking on FISA is different from what Richard Nixon did with surveillance because Bush wasn't abusing surveillance for partisan or personal gains. To which I say: How do we know? The Washington Post published an editorial slamming opponents of retroactive telecom immunity that made the following pseudo-argument:

No one can claim with certainty that his or her communications were monitored. The likelihood of prevailing — or even getting very far — with such lawsuits is low. The litigation seems aimed as much at using the tools of discovery to dislodge information about what the administration actually did as it is at redressing unknown injuries.

Benjamin Friedman observes that "you have to wonder why the Post thinks that dislodging information about an illegal wiretapping programs is nefarious." Meanwhile I have to wonder why so much of the elite press is so absolutely certain all this illegal surveillance was undertaken in good faith when, in fact, we have no idea what happened and the administration has been trying very hard to make sure we never do.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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