Clarke on Fear

Via Adam Blickstein, Richard Clarke (who was worrying about al-Qaeda long before George W. Bush) has a great op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer eviscerating the president's arguments on FISA:

For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections. [...]

In order to defeat the violent Islamist extremists who do not believe in human rights, we need not give up the civil liberties, constitutional rights and protections that generations of Americans fought to achieve. We do not need to create Big Brother. With the administration's attempts to erode FISA's legal standing as the exclusive means by which our government can conduct electronic surveillance of U.S. persons on U.S. soil, this is unfortunately the path the president is taking us down.

It's striking that at the same time Bush thinks we need to ditch the constitution and basic principles of good government in order to fight al-Qaeda, he remains totally uninterested in orienting our foreign policy toward this goal. Instead today, just as it's been throughout his administration, the bulk of our policies reflects an unwillingness and inability to set priorities. We need to be mired in Iraq indefinitely, says Bush. We need to pick new fights with Iran, says Bush. We need missile defense and Virginia Class submarines and F-22. Nothing shall be compromised in order to better position ourselves against al-Qaeda. Nothing but the rule of law and our civil liberties.