On September 17, 2001, President Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., to declare that Muslims “share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. … They love America just as much as I do.” But the actions Bush took in the days shortly after 9/11 sent a clear signal that his administration viewed those who stood with him in the Islamic Center as national security threats, not as individuals who shared American values.
U.S. News revealed that, in the days after 9/11, Bush ordered that “over a hundred Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques” be secretly monitored for radiation levels without warrants or court orders.
Reacting to the story, the right-wing blog Real Clear Politics posted the following misguided commentary:
This is insane. Can we not settle the legality of these types of programs in private? … As with the NSA case, the leakers should be rounded up and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
In fact, federal officials involved with the program did try to settle the issue of the program’s legality in private, but the Bush administration (as it typically does) resorted to fear and intimidation to stifle dissent. Here’s what U.S. News reported:
Two individuals, who declined to be named because the program is highly classified, spoke to U.S. News because of their concerns about the legality of the program. … “A lot of us thought it was questionable, but people who complained nearly lost their jobs. We were told it was perfectly legal.”
The right-wing anger here is misdirected. It is the Bush administration that took actions contrary to the law and has thus made this an issue. In fact, the whistleblowers and U.S. News were careful to omit “sensitive methods” that would compromise the procedural operations of the program.
It’s also ironic that Real Clear Politics now wants to employ the power of the law to round up and prosecute leakers — unless of course the leaker is the deputy White House chief of staff and the substance of the leak involves an undercover CIA agent’s identity.