Monday, February 06, 2006

Draw Your Own Conclusions

John Podhoretz catches an exquisite little snowflake in his chubby palm, and barely has time to admire it before it melts:

As Alberto Gonzales tries to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee why it might be necessary to take extraordinary measures to subdue Al Qaeda, the "20th hijacker," Zacarias Moussaoui, appeared in court for jury selection in his trial. He stood up, said, "I am Al Qaeda," announced he didn't want his lawyers to represent him because they were Americans, and had to be escorted from the courtroom. Draw your own conclusions.
Glad to! My conclusion is that this is the most deliriously incoherent comment yet made about warrantless wiretapping. Moussaoui's hijinks in court have no conceivable bearing on this issue. If anything, they're a reminder of Moussaoui's vainglory and irrationality, which is what led his flight instructor to contact the FBI in the first place.

When Moussaoui was arrested, he had in his possession - among other things - two knives; flight manuals for the Boeing 747 Model 400; a flight simulator computer program; and a computer disk containing information on crop dusting. This is what led FBI agents to request permission to search Moussaoui's computer. For some reason, FBI official Marion "Spike" Bowman refused to make the relevant FISA request, but he was nonetheless given a "Presidential Rank Award" and a generous cash bonus.

Given these facts, it's pretty difficult to paint Moussaoui as a poster boy for warrantless wiretapping. But to present Moussaoui's impotent, Manson-esque courtroom antics as support for Gonzalez's case is about as batshit crazy as it gets. The only conclusion I can draw about Podhoretz is the one Glenn Greenwald draws about Bush: he wants to let Al Qaeda dictate the type of government we have. Let's hope Moussaoui doesn't stand on his head while in court, or stick his tongue out at the judge; the repercussions for constitutional law could be enormous.

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