Lawyers, bloggers, and lawyer-bloggers are trying to suss out the meaning of the Bush administration's decision to allow a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to monitor the National Security Agency's wiretapping program. Bloggers of all stripes are crowing about the irony over speculation that Fidel Castro is a victim of Cuba's socialized health-care system, and they're giving some time to the Doomsday Clock.
The Bush party line: The Bush administration says it's going to stop spying on Americans without first getting a warrant. Or bloggers at least think that's what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in his letter to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
New York City First Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald isn't feeling the love at Unclaimed Territory. "There is nothing to celebrate here. We shouldn't be grateful when the administration agrees to abide by the law. … [T]he President's claimed willingness to abide by FISA from now on does not even slightly obviate the need for a full-scale investigation into the last five years of illegal eavesdropping activities."
Right-wing blogger Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards sees the whole thing as a victory for the administration, claiming "it wasthe FISA court that accepted the Bush rationale. ... Bear in mind that the original NSA al-Qaeda intercept program was launched by executive order; should the FISA court fail to live up to its agreement to allow the administraiton a free hand to intercept terrorist communications... well, I'm sure President Bush can find a copy of his original order and just sign it again."
Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly's Political Animal isn't buying any of it. "First, I just have to ask: does anybody really believe that the Bush administration has been studiously beavering away on this for two years, and it's just a coincidence that they finally made this concession a mere few days after Democrats took control of Congress? Any takers on that?"
But at Power Line, John H. Hinderaker, a conservative blogger and attorney, reckons nothing much has changed, despite the news. "[T]he administration seems to have found a solution that allows the Terrorist Surveillance Program to continue in all but name, while defusing the criticisms of the program—which were, in my opinion, almost entirely unjustified."
Read more about the NSA agreement.
Dictator malpractice: Bloggers of all stripes are gleeful at speculation that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is on his deathbed as a result of his own decision to not get a colostomy and to poor medical care from the socialized system El Jefe has so often praised.
Conservative blogger McGehee at Yippee-Ki-Yay! blames the patient, too. "[Y]ou would assume Fidel Castro had the care of the finest doctors and surgeons on the island. And still their skills and resources weren't up to the job. Some might blame the U.S.-imposed embargo for the lack of resources, but we are in fact the only nation in the world that observes that embargo. … Fidel Castro isn't dying of American foreign policy. He's dying of Cuban domestic policies that he engineered."
At the centrist blog Winds of Change, Michael Fumento, who suffered from the ailment Castro allegedly has, points out that the dictator's decision "virtually guarantees continued infection. … For his troubles, he ended up with one anyway."
Liberal Doug Mataconis at The Liberty Papers tries to be charitable but doesn't come close. "[D]doctors make mistakes even in the United States, but there is some delicious irony in the idea that Fidel may be dying because of the incompetence created by his own system."
Read more about Castro's health.
Antiaging cream won't help: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists took two minutes off the world's lifespan, moving the Doomsday Clock to 11:55 and, for the first time, adding global warming to the list of reasons why we're all going to buy the farm.
Conservative Culture says it's all just politics: "Just when the Dems take charge you see the clock just tick away." But WarCriminalGeorge at the liberal Daily Kos turns up the heat on the White House and the unwillingness to embrace science on climate change. "The demonic Bush and Co. have avoided all scientific expertise in this area. The past six years of Bush and Co. public policy is now seen in even greater catastrophic detail."
Joe Citizen at RightPundits has no patience for the keepers of the Doomsday Clock. "Instead of using their wisdom to help preserve mans ability to survive on our ever changing planet, he Doomsday timekeepers sit behind the monitors of their number crunching super computers, eating granola, and hoping to find some gloomy news to pass along to us nonintellectual types."
Matt Stansberry, a tech journalist at SearchDataCenter, cheerfully asks, "[A]re we too far gone? Maybe it's time to run up the energy bill, bust out an umbrella drink and bring on the global warming."
Read more about the Doomsday Clock.