My column today covers the civil liberties absolutists’ hindsight hypocrisy and selective uproar over the NSA’s surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives and their contacts.
I note the silence of the New York Times and the privacy crusaders over a report last week that military spy satellites were used to monitor suspects after the Oklahoma City bombing:
Funny enough, another story about unprecedented domestic spying measures broke a week before the Times’s stunt. But neither the Times, nor the ACLU, nor the Democrat Party leadership had a peep to say about the reported infringements on Americans’ civil liberties. Sen. Charles Schumer (by the way, Chuck, how’s that apology to Lt. Gov. Michael Steele over his stolen credit report coming along?) did not rush to the cameras to call the alleged privacy breach “shocking.” Sen. Robert Byrd did not awake from his slumber to decry the adoption of “the thuggish practices of our enemies.” The indignant New York Times editorial board did not call for heads to roll.
That’s because the targets of the spy scandal that didn’t make the front-page headlines were politically incorrect right-wing extremists.
According to the McCurtain Daily Gazette, in the days after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the U.S. government used a spy satellite to gather intelligence on a white separatist compound in Oklahoma. The paper obtained a Secret Service log showing that on May 2, 1995, two weeks after the April 19 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people, the FBI was trying to locate suspects for questioning.
Investigators zeroed in on the compound in nearby Elohim City. “Satellite assets have been tasked to provide intelligence concerning the compound,” the document said, according to the Gazette and Associate Press. The Gazette noted that “America’s spy-satellite program is jointly under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Targeting decisions are classified; however, persons familiar with the project say any domestic use of these satellites is barred by agreements between the CIA and DoD.” Photo-reconnaissance satellites that gather intelligence from space usually target hostile governments and foreign terrorists. “The domestic use of a military satellite for domestic spying is a violation of DoD and CIA regulations regarding the proper use of top-secret national security satellites,” the Gazette reported.
But with the exception of a brief Associated Press recap, the story received absolutely no mainstream media attention. No civil liberties circus. No White House press corps pandemonium.
The Left believes the government should do whatever it takes to fight terrorists–but only when the terrorists look like Timothy McVeigh. If you’re on the MCI Friends and Family plan of Osama bin Laden and Abu Zubaydah, you’re home free.
Meanwhile, a sane Democrat lawyer who served in the Clinton administration supports President Bush’s legal position on the post-9/11 electronic surveillance program.
John Hinderaker wants a reply from the NYTimes reporters.
Update: John receives some non-answer answers from Eric Lichtblau.