One of the oddest aspects of some of the debates over the Bush administration and various forms of legal due process has been how unkosher it's viewed to suggest that the sort of powers Bush wants might be used abusively, in the manner of a Richard Nixon. It's odd because the rules Bush is trying to discard were put in place for the very specific reason that the Watergate investigation led to revelations of a much larger pattern of abuse. It's a pattern that reached a high point under Nixon, but wherein Nixon was clearly building on the abuses of his predecessors. So it wouldn't by any means be unprecedented for the Bush administration to use, say, surveillance powers to spy on political adversaries.

Meanwhile, as Paul Krugman says surely the recent revelations coming out of the Justice Department should be relevant here. People were being hired and fired for career positions on explicitly partisan political grounds. That's serious wrongdoing. And it's at the Justice Department. That's not evidence that partisan abuses were happening at the NSA, but combined with the history it should surely raise an eyebrow or two and in a rational world would be fueling demands for a more thorough examination of what the administration was really up to.

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