RUSH: A New York Times story from January 1st: “A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program. The concerns prompted two of President Bush’s most senior aides,” Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales, “to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program’s future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft…” Now, first observation is: None of this matters. If it’s constitutional, it’s constitutional. So it doesn’t matter if James Comey or John Ashcroft or anybody else disagreed with it or didn’t want to sign on to it. If it’s constitutional, it’s constitutional, but the main point about this is look at the lengths that they went to.
I mean, if this were an administration that were hell-bent on secrecy and violating everybody’s civil liberties and didn’t care a whit about the privacy of the Constitution, well, they wouldn’t have made these efforts — and they even suspended the program for a while they were trying to get this sorted out. Finally the president said, “You know what? I agree with Jamie Gorelick. I have inherent constitutional authority.” So much ado about nothing continues with this. I also got an interesting e-mail while I was gone. “Rush, I got a different spin to the so-called NSA leak. The NSA only handles the budgets for other alphabet agencies such as the CIA, the FBI, or the DEA.” Does anybody remember the name Christopher Boyce, by the way? You remember the name Christopher Boyce? I’ll tell you about Chris Boyce. Christopher Boyce compromised the Rhyolite satellite to the communists in the seventies. In other words, he told the communists, he was an American who told the commies about the Rhyolite satellite.
It was the start of the end of the Cold War. This is what the movie, The Falcon and the Snowman was about, Christopher Boyce. He was a turncoat. He gave up information about the spy to the Soviets. That was the beginning of the end because the Russian leaders decided that since the United States could intercept their communications, they didn’t have a chance against us. That was the first thing that turned on their light, and then you go on and on through the Reagan administration and get to SDI and that was the final straw. They learned they couldn’t compete. So this e-mail, “Now that the terrorists know what our capabilities are, they’re going to have a better understanding of their chances against us.” That is, unless the Democrats are able to shut down the program. That is, unless the Democrats are able to continue to side with our enemies, the Democrats are able to continue to penalize the good guys here, and the media, then the terrorists are going to win, but if we can prevail on this, then fine.
Wiretaps are not even necessary because these intercepts are done by electronics, computer data mining. They’re not even really real wiretaps. As the e-mailer says, “The point that I’m trying to make here is that the spy system’s been around for a long time, and the people who were able to win popularity contests and get themselves elected have been briefed on a need-to-know basis. The Democrats are Bush-bashing because he’s decided most of them don’t have a need to know, and they can’t be trusted to know. And this whole NSA flap is because they know he’s right, and they’re mad over their loss of power and control.” That’s a theory, and I think that’s an element of it, but I think there’s far more. I think they’re just so obsessed with getting their own power back and taking Bush out that they don’t care on the temporary basis who they end up siding with. Let’s go to the audiotapes. James Risen of the New York Times was on the Today Show today, an exclusive interview. His story was held to be tied to a book release, and this is so predictable what he says. Katie Couric’s question: “I know that you broke the story, as we mentioned, for the New York Times. Why do you think the people who talked about this secret program came forward and told you about it?”
RISEN: I think this was the most classic whistleblower case I’ve ever seen where people —
RUSH: Stop the tape! Stop the tape. That’s the new spin. These are not leakers, why, these are whistle-blowers, why, I think he’ll even call them patriots.
RISEN: You know, in a lot of stories, people have mixed motives for why they talk to reporters. Some people in some stories, there’s a turf battle, and they are losing out in a turf battle or whatever. In this case, I’ve been a reporter for about 25 years. This was the purest case of a whistle — of whistleblowers coming forward. People who truly believed that there was something wrong going on in the government and they were motivated I believe by the purest reasons.
RUSH: All right, let’s take a look at this. I think this displays for us the dramatic differences that exist between us and them. Here’s Risen, and his leakers are whistle-blowers, and they’re patriotic, only doing this for the purest of reasons. Well, could you not say the same thing about whoever it was that leaked Valerie Plame’s situation. In fact, the purpose of leaking Valerie Plame’s name, whoever did it, was not to expose her and her covert status — and you know how we know that? Because the special prosecutor didn’t even find that to be a crime! Scooter Libby’s been indicted on what’s called a process crime, lying to the grand jury. But there’s no charge that anybody leaked the identity of a covert agent. The leakers, whoever they were, whoever he or she is, in the Plame case, they had just as pure a motive. They were trying to protect the government’s policy and the war in Iraq. They were leaking these bits of information here to try to discredit a bogus story that was being told by Joe Wilson and his wife. You know, let’s talk about whose motives are pure. Well, to the left, the purest of motives are defined by a whistleblower who seeks to undermine the administration. Scooter Libby, on the other hand, to these people is an absolute hardened criminal. He is nothing. He is dirt. He is scum. He had the audacity to leak this precious operative’s name, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Risen then continues here with the next question. Katie says, “Well, as you know, your revelations have caused the CIA to launch a formal investigation — not — well, DOJ is actually doing it, or the justice department,” she says, “to launch a formal investigation. Are you concerned that you’re going to have to reveal your sources to a grand jury?”
RISEN: Well, I hope not. I think that at this point it would — these people came forward for the best reasons. This is in my opinion the complete opposite of the Plame case. These are people who came forward in order to tell the American people the truth as they saw it, and I think they were truly American patriots.
RUSH: Well, we’re going to find out just how committed to the confidentiality of his sources Risen is and whether he’ll be willing to go to jail to protect them, because that standard’s already been set. We’ve got an independent counsel who has sent reporters to jail for not divulging their sources, and what does he say? Well, these are people that came forward in order to tell the American people the truth as they saw it. Who are they? It’s not good enough to say that they’re just government sources. Yeah, and since when does the reporter get to determine who’s patriotic and who isn’t? He’s the arbiter of whether this is a patriotic leak or a political leak. He’s the arbiter of this? He gets to sit there and decide? We’ll find out once this investigation gets going, if he gets to decide this. But no, make no mistake about something here: Who are these people? It’s not enough anymore for a reporter to say, “These are people high, high caliber, very sensitive parts of…” Yeah, are they members of MoveOn.org? Are they Democrats? Do they contribute to the Democrat National Committee? Who are these people? Are they in the Senate? Where are these people? Let’s find out who they are before we start passing judgment on their motives. And we certainly can’t sit around and let the reporter be the arbiter of their motives. Here’s the next question. “Let’s talk about some of the content in your book. You have some very interesting revelations, a lot of different ones. One is that the president expressed concern that an Al-Qaeda member who was in custody received pain medications. He said, ‘Who authorized that?’ You suggested this might be the precursor to torture being used. Isn’t that kind of a big leap?”
RISEN: They were discussing Abu Zubaydah, who was the first major Al-Qaeda figure to be captured. He had been wounded during the capture, and he was receiving medication. What I was told was that the president asked Tenet who authorized giving him pain medication. The question really goes to, how did the message get sent to the CIA over a period of several months that we have to get tough with prisoners? Because eventually we saw a whole — the creation of a whole regime of harsh interrogation tactics that began at the CIA and then, as we saw, ended up at Abu Ghraib in Iraq with the military. And so there’s a question of what were the origins of the interrogation techniques that were used in the war on terror?
RUSH: You talk about a leap. Katie didn’t even get halfway near it. So the president apparently — and we only have Risen’s version of this. We only have him as our source and whoever it is that is his source. So the president says to Tenet, well, who’s given this terrorist pain medication? And that launches torture. That signaled to Tenet, okay, if the president wants us to be tough on these guys take the pain medication away and stack them up in a pyramid and send Lynndie England over there with a cigarette and a whip. This is how this happens, and this is what everybody here has glommed onto.
RUSH: One more Risen bit. You see the pattern here. This is something, by the way, that I have mentioned throughout this whole scandal, and see if this doesn’t remind you of something that you’ve heard me talking about recently. Question from Katie Couric: “Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, George Tenet did not come across very well in your book.”
RISEN: From 9/11 through the beginning of the war in Iraq, I think what happened was we — the checks and balances that normally keep American foreign policy and national security policy towards the center kind of broke down —
RUSH: Stop the tape! Stop! What checks and balances keep American foreign policy and national security policy towards the center? What in the hell is he talking about? What right does he have to define the center anyway? I mean I know what he’s talking about, don’t misunderstand. Sounds like it’s exactly, exactly right Snerdley, this sounds exactly like it’s come out of the state department. They consider themselves centrists, they are higher and mightier than anybody, smarter and elite, and they’re above it all, and of course here come these guys, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and they sort of hijacked things. Who does that remind you of? This guy that used to be Colin Powell’s chief of staff. I can’t remember his name now, (Lawrence Wilkerson), Colin Powell’s chief of staff who starts making these speeches in the middle of last month. Here’s the rest of the bite.
RISEN: Of more of a radicalization of American foreign policy in which the career professionals were not really given a chance to kind of forge a consensus within the administration.
RUSH: Stop the tape. I know at least for this I know his sources are right out of the state department, it is totally clear what’s happened here. What is it, forge a consensus? Forging a consensus helped us do what in defeating the Soviets in the Cold War, hmm? What credit can the state department claim to that? What credit can the state department claim to any success we’ve had in the war on terror, in Afghanistan, Baghdad, you name it. What success? Forging consensus? You know what consensus is? It’s absence of leadership. When the state department talks about consensus it’s making sure that nobody’s neck’s hanging out to dry if something goes wrong, which means we’re not going to do anything decisive. We’re just going to have the status quo, we’ll have our ongoing dialogue, and we’ll have our ongoing talks and communications, but we won’t actually take steps to solve anything, because if we do that, we’re out of business. There’s no more reason for us to forge consensus. Here’s the rest of this stupid bite.
RISEN: You had the principals, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Tenet and Rice, many others who are meeting constantly, setting policy, and really never allowed the people who understand, the experts who understand the region to have much of a say.
COURIC: You suggest there’s a lot of power-grabbing going on.
RUSH: This is absurd. They won the election! Cheney is the vice president of the United States; Bush is the president of the United States. Rumsfeld is the secretary of defense. They’re a part of the administration, the executive branch. They won the election! They cannot “power-grab.” There is no separation of powers between the executive branch and the state department. There’s no constitutional authority here granting the state department any independence whatsoever. None. This is absurd, to have it portrayed now that the elected leaders of the nation were meeting constantly and setting policy as though that’s sinister! Why, that’s never happened before. The elected leaders, meeting constantly, setting policy, never allowing the people who understand the experts who understand the region? Now, that’s a little ditty, isn’t it? The experts are the people in the state department, the elected officials!
“What the hell they’re doing? They’re just a bunch of power-mad little despots,” and the truth of the matter is that the people that the country elected, Bush, and that he appointed, Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, understand full well the danger posed to our security by the kind of mindset that exists in the state department, the so-called experts over there are experts in nothing. They are certainly not experts in victory. They are not experts in success. They are experts in the status quo. They live and breathe on this notion that they alone understand the region. If it were up to the state department and James Risen and whoever his sources are, there would not be a democracy in Afghanistan today; there would not be a democracy in Iraq; there would not have been 11 million people turn out to vote. Those are the people who say that’s not possible. Those are the people who say, “You don’t understand the region.” Those are the people that say, “You don’t understand the Arab world. You go try to do something like that, you’re going to have big troubles on your hands!” They don’t understand diddly-squat.
It’s been the case for decades, and finally we had some people elected who understand the problems posed by this kind of mind-set at the state department. Now all of a sudden those people — it’s crystal clear to me what’s gone on here, and it’s been crystal clear for two months. The established foreign policy establishment, if you will, in the state department and whoever is a member of it at justice and at the defense department, the Pentagon, have all aligned themselves, because they know full well that they are being outflanked, they’re being outperformed, and they’re having 30 or 40 years of their work blown up right in front of them. It is being demonstrated how inconsequential they are and have been. It is being demonstrated how ineffective and incompetent they are. It’s been demonstrated what a bunch of phonies they have been. It’s been demonstrated how they accomplish nothing if they are left alone to practice their art. And so it’s simple human nature, protecting their own backyards and their little fiefdoms, and so they leak to these dummkopfs, these sponges at the New York Times who are, of course, fellow travelers and along the same lines, and of course you get this inertia going where Bush — it all fits, the spying, overreaching, power grabbing. The fact is just the opposite, and these people are going to lose this big time because they’re on the wrong side of history. Here, listen to the president, and contrast the president with what you just heard from this New York Times reporter.
THE PRESIDENT: The fact that somebody leaked this program causes great harm to the United States. There’s an enemy out there. They read newspapers, they listen to what you write, they listen to what you put on the air, and they react. And we — it seems logical to me that if we know there’s a phone number associated with Al-Qaeda and/or an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and they’re making phone calls, it makes sense to find out why. They attacked us before; they will attack us again, if they can. And we’re going to do everything we can to stop them.
RUSH: Now, the people that want to find fault with this are unfortunately placed for them, placed in the position of having to defend Al-Qaeda as a harmless organization. They’re placed in the position of saying none of this is necessary, we have no fear, we have nothing to worry about. This attack on 9/11 occurred in this country! The idea that you cannot, as a government, to protect the citizens of this country, find out who else in this country might be talking to other Al-Qaeda types internationally is simply absurd. And yet that’s the side the left and the Democrats have once again put themselves on. They have accepted the side of defeat. They are invested in it. Don’t worry about that. I know it’s maddening here, folks, but like Bush, he’s confident this is going to work out, and so am I. I sleep well at night.