The Spectacle Blog

The Prez Lands Five Solid Hits

By on 12.19.05 | 3:12PM

It has been widely noted that President Bush landed four punches today, with his challenges to "Senators from New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles" filibustering the Patriot Act. Awkwardly phrased though it was, everybody knew what it meant. Those cities are widely acknowledged terror targets, and Senators Schumer, Reid, Boxer, and Feinstein will have to answer for their filibuster if any attack on those cities succeeds.

There's another less-noticed...well, can I say "bitch slap"? The Prez told a story about how the government used to track Osama bin Laden because he used "a certain type of phone." And then somebody leaked that fact, and Osama bin Laden stopped using that kind of phone. I imagine the cheeks of a certain Senator, nicknamed "Leaky" by Rush, were burning.

Patrick Leahy has also been called "the meanest man in the Senate." Let's see if he tries to get even.

Bravo, Dubya! Bravo!

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Re: Less waterboarding…

By on 12.19.05 | 3:02PM

John: Excellent point about renditions, but I'm not sure it will increase them all that much. With the WaPo's revelations about the secret facilities these guys have been flown around to, there are fewer of them available to us, and fewer allies willing to take bad guys. As to waterboarding, there's a dirty little secret: it works. Former al-Q #3 Khalid Sheik Mohammed was a very hard case for the first days he was in captivity. He was, I've heard, waterboarded by experts. Since that time he's been giving up a lot of solid information.

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Wavering Reid

By on 12.19.05 | 2:44PM

"My personal opinion is it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war." President Bush said that this morning in discussing last week's NYT plant about the NSA monitoring al Qaeda operatives and al Qaeda sympathizers by way of Presidential order. But he might as well have been speaking about any number of "strategic" leaks by Senate, CIA and other operatives interested in making political hay and embarrassing the United States.

Over the weekend, the media noted that Sen. Harry Reid had been strangely silent about the latest revelations, and we're hearing there was good reason for this: he was attempting to find out if the leak had come from within offices that he had oversight of control over. "We got the impression that he wanted to jump onto this things early on Friday, but he held us all back from talking. We were hearing that he wanted to make sure there wasn't going to be any blowback on him," says a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

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Less Waterboarding, More Severe Beatings?

By on 12.19.05 | 1:33PM

In a BloggingHeads.tv segment with Mickey Kaus, Eric Umansky brings up something that's been bugging me for a while: Won't the McCain Amendment simply encourage rendition? This really should give those who've been self-righteously pounding the table on this issue some pause.

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Hey, New York Times!

By on 12.19.05 | 12:07PM

Maybe someone at the Grey Lady ought to start reading their NewsMax -- Clinton had been "misusing" intelligence far more than Bush did, and he did not have the excuse of 9-11. Here's a snippet:

Echelon expert Mike Frost, who spent 20 years as a spy for the Canadian equivalent of the National Security Agency, told "60 Minutes" that the agency was monitoring "everything from data transfers to cell phones to portable phones to baby monitors to ATMs."

...Still, the Times repeatedly insisted on Friday that NSA surveillance under Bush had been unprecedented, at one point citing anonymously an alleged former national security official who claimed: "This is really a sea change. It's almost a mainstay of this country that the NSA only does foreign searches."

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Blair’s EU Sellout

By on 12.19.05 | 8:15AM

Today's Telegraph has a superb editorial on Tony Blair's sellout of the British rebate to the EU and France. Without any gains against the French agricultural subsidy, Blair gave up most of the Thatcher-negotiated rebate that now amounts to about 10 billion pounds annually. As the Telegraph points out, Blair's internationalism has never been based on Britain's interests. Here's the money quote:

"Make no mistake: the sums of money involved are immense - £7 billion, the amount Mr Blair has handed away, is roughly the entire police budget for England and Wales. At the last election, Mr Blair claimed Tory plans for a £4 billion tax reduction would mean savage cuts in public services. Never again will he be able to level such an accusation...From now on, every time they are asked where they would find the money for tax cuts, the Tories can reasonably reply: from Brussels."

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A Catholic Court? So What

By on 12.19.05 | 7:22AM

Marci Hamilton succinctly debunks the Christopher-Hitchens-popish-conspiracy school of thought about a majority of Catholic justices on the Supreme Court. In the era of cafeteria Catholics, there's no telling how one Catholic will come down on an issue, Hamilton argues.

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Much Better Than Nothing

By on 12.19.05 | 7:09AM

House GOP leaders secured $41.6 billion in spending cuts over the next five years and attached ANWR drilling to the defense bill -- forcing a tough vote for Senate Democrats. Seeing as both pieces of legislation were in dire straits last week, this is very good news.

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