Ron Paul, Surveillance, & the GOP

David Weigel has a good piece in the Washington Independent today on Ron Paul ‘s rising influence in Washington. The articles mentions that Ron Paul has been bringing in some folks to have lunch and discuss ideas with some of his Republican colleagues. The article includes a quote from me: “There’s a growing recognition that the GOP is intellectually bankrupt and morally bankrupt…. I hope the battle of ideas is changing.”

When I was the guest at a luncheon discussion in Paul’s office last Thursday, I spoke primarily about torture and warrantless wiretapping. Apropos the Jane Harman controversy, I asked the members of Congress: “How many of you are confident that your phone calls are NOT being wiretapped?”

I mentioned a comment by congressional leader Hale Boggs in 1971 on the effect of congressional “fear” of the FBI – how the FBI’s boundless surveillance undermined congressional oversight of the FBI in the 1960s and early 1970s. I asked whether the same thing could be happening now regarding congressional oversight of the various law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The luncheon was off-the-record, so, unfortunately, I cannot disclose the responses to my questions. (Disclosing one’s own comments or questions is not a breach of confidentiality).

John McCain: “I’m a Terrorist”

Well, OK, he didn’t say that explicitly. But he did say it implicitly.

A basic logic lesson and please forgive me if you think I’m talking down to you. I’m really not. It’s just that I’m shocked at how many people, including McCain, don’t seem to get logic. If I say, “All crows are black” and I also say, “That bird is a crow,” then I’m saying that that bird is black even if I don’t say so explicitly.

On ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, April 20, John McCain called William Ayers “an unrepentant terrorist.” What was McCain’s evidence? McCain said that Ayers “was engaged in bombings which could have or did kill innocent people…” So McCain is saying that someone who engages in bombings which could have killed or did kill innocent people is a terrorist.

Now consider what McCain did. McCain flew a bomber, an A-4E Skyhawk, over North Vietnam. I don’t know whether he actually dropped his bombs before being shot down. But certainly he was engaged in actions that, if he had succeeded, could have killed innocent people. Which makes McCain, in his own words, a terrorist.

Now McCain could argue that that’s different because, as he said elsewhere in the interview, “I had a reconciliation with the Vietnamese, when we normalized relations.” Did he apologize to them? He didn’t say. If he did, that would make him a “repentant terrorist.” Too bad Stephanopoulos didn’t challenge him.