Tuesday, June 03, 2008

exposure of warrantless wiretap program by NYT did not damage national security, says McClellan.

I know what you’re thinking: You are certain that in the 29 gazillion press availabilities that you have watched, you have heard everything that former White House press flack Scott McClellan has to say about George W. Bush’s great American truth killing machine. But there he is, on the radio, on the TV, up in the sky. . . and you find yourself looking and listening again.

OK, I didn’t see him up in the sky, but I did see and/or hear three additional interviews with Scotty Mac on Monday, and there are the odd interesting moments that are differently interesting enough to keep you coming back. For instance, McClellan’s appearances on both Fresh Air and The Daily Show each had moments where he was challenged more than he was during any of what I heard or saw last week.

Also interesting was McClellan’s appearance Monday afternoon on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show (and no, I’m not talking about the two times that Leonard tried to out Scott). Lopate asked McClellan about White House attempts to silence what it saw as bad or inopportune publicity (just after the 24 minute mark on the audio):

Lopate: Didn’t the administration forcefully threaten the press, especially when the New York Times revealed the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program?

McClellan: Well there were certainly some strong words there that if you do this you’re going to expose some national security secrets; I can’t find any that would be harmful to our national security. I can’t find any evidence that it has been with its exposure. And in fact those investigative reporters did a great job and their article was delayed for about a year because of the pressure that the president and other top people put on the editors of the New York Times.

With Congress gearing up for another go at new FISA legislation (or, more like, Republican fear mongers and their BushDog enablers gearing up for another attempt to force retroactive immunity through the House), it would be good to add Scotty’s words to the overwhelming consensus of opinion (and the overwhelming lack of countervailing arguments that can site, you know, facts) that revelations about the administration’s illegal wiretaps did not harm our national security, and that warrantless surveillance does nothing to make us safer.

And now you don’t have to take the word of former intelligence officials, first amendment lawyers, federal judges, and scores of freedom-loving activists for it, you have the testimony of the guy that was fully briefed on the program the night before he had to go out and defend it.

(Which, of course, means that several folks at the Times knew about this program a year before the Press Secretary did. . . but that’s a whole other issue.)

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

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