Let's give Today its due. It devoted extended coverage this morning to the growing nuclear threat from Iran. In Katie Couric's interview of Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, it was quickly established that Iran does indeed represent a serious danger. Much of the conversation involved a discussion of the various options - none of them ideal - to address the threat. One might argue that Haass' estimate that Iran remains five years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon is dangerously optimistic, but he did not attempt to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
But, inevitably, Katie turned the talk to what she deemed domestic spying, alternatively dubbing it, with a wry smile, "the terrorist surveillance program."
Katie suggested that the administration offer specific examples of instances in which the program thwarted acts of terrorism. Haass rejected the idea: "I don't think they need to more specific. You don't want to give away intelligence methods."
But Haass claimed the Bush administration is "losing the argument" by asserting "that they can decide who and when to do it against. That they can do this and bypass . . . "
That's when Couric interrupted with her very dark depiction of the Bush administration:
"the sort of unbridled, power, right?"
She continued: "And even if the legislation has to be updated, that I think the American people probably would . . . "
Haass finished her sentence for her: "I think the American are grown-ups, they understand we're living in dangerous times; we've got to protect ourselves. But we can't give the executive branch or the president unlimited power to fight terrorism."
Let's review: Haass claims the Bush administration is "losing the argument" on terrorist surveillance. With whom, pray tell, beyond the MSM and the left-wing establishment? Certainly not with the American people. From a recent Rasmussen report:
"Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States. A Rasmussen Reports survey found that just 23% disagree."
Even 51% of Democrats support the idea, by the way.
And what of Katie's Orwellian view of the president's "unbridled power"? A president who briefed congressional leaders of both parties about the program. A president exercising nothing like the kind of power applied by liberal hero FDR during WWII.
The difference now? First, of course, is the fact that President Bush is a dreaded Republican. Second, in their heart of hearts, do liberals really believe that we are a country at war?
Finkelstein lives in Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the local TV show "Right Angle." Email him at: email@example.com