Wednesday, January 04, 2006


The Importance of Preparation

Rosa Brooks, one of the new, talented columnists at the Los Angeles Times and brand new Constitutional Law professor at my, and my father's, alma mater, the University of Virginia, went on the Hugh Hewitt talk radio show (710 AM in Denver--4 to 7 weekdays) and she was charming but, well, she failed to overwhelm us with the power of her intellect.

She was invited on Hugh Hewitt's show to defend her column last Friday titled "Is Clinton's history in Bush's future?" The transcript of her appearance is available at Radio Blogger.

Professor Brooks says that she doesn't think President Bush will be impeached, but she believes there is a prima facie case that he should be. Her support is the minority report of Democratic staffers on the House Judiciary Committee (apparently the President lied and in his spare time tortures people et alia). She also accuses the President of violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Let's concentrate on that allegation; I'm getting pretty sick of the others.

Con Law Professors are supposed to teach proto-lawyers about the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court case law interpreting that important document. One just assumes they know Constitutional Law in order to teach it.

And when a Con Law Professor writes, in an erstwhile important national paper based in Los Angeles, that the President has violated FISA, one again assumes that the columnist professor actually knows what FISA says and the case law interpreting it. In Rosa Brooks case, that would be the wrong assumption to make.

Aside from the cogent arguments that, on its face, FISA does not apply to what the NSA is accused of doing, there is the case law, all of the case law on the subject of Presidential power to spy on foreign enemies. One seminal case is Unites States v. United States District Court from 1972 in which Supreme Court Justice Powell, writing for the majority, said nothing in that case prevented the President from spying, with no warrant, on foreign agents communication with American citizens.

Con Law Professor Rosa Parks didn't know that case, didn't know it from Adam (She used the command women, who can't admit they don't know something, use to learn things, "Refresh my memory"--don't get me started about that sort of woman). She was reduced to major back peddling, saying twice that she was no expert in FISA law. No kidding.

But the lack of her knowledge doesn't stop her from having an opinion, detrimental to the President, that the very law she knows squat about was in fact violated by President Bush. She certainly knows which side the butter goes on at the LA Times. When in doubt, accuse the President of High Crimes and Misdemeanors (I think that's part of the LA Times style manual).

Here's the real divide. Just as some people look at a glass of water half full and call it half empty, some people look at intercepting a conversation between an American citizen here and an al Qaeda member in Pakistan and call that domestic surveillance. We call those people Democrats. Republicans look at intercepting that conversation and call it foreign surveillance. Guess which one is right? Not our Ms. Brooks.

She also claims that there are "quite a lot of Republicans" who think Bush guilty of wrongdoing. When Hugh Hewitt asked her to name some, Professor Brooks named a journalist and a democrat and then finally blurted out John Dean, who once was a Republican who went to jail during the Nixon downfall and has lately been a very vocal critic of President Bush. That's her quite a lot of Republicans. It was the best support she gave during the interview for any of her allegations.

I can't wait for her to come back on the show.

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