They've Created a Lamonster


Speaking of Ned Lamont… President Bush's short speech responding to the foiled UK airline attacks has an interesting parallel. On February 9, the president gave a speech in Los Angeles about another smashed terrorist plot. His emphasis on the reasons for its failure was politically specific.

Their plot was derailed in early 2002 when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al Qaeda operative. Subsequent debriefings and other intelligence operations made clear the intended target, and how al Qaeda hoped to execute it. This critical intelligence helped other allies capture the ringleaders and other known operatives who had been recruited for this plot.

Bush's apparent goal was to tie the US's success to the controversial NSA spying program. It seemed to work.

Yesterday, when Bush addressed the UK plot, he mentioned giving law enforcement the "tools" to fight terror—NSA spying, hint hint. But he led with a none-too-subtle linkage of the foiled attack and the war in Iraq.

The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.

A stark reminder, get it? You kids who were doubting my strategy—you, in Connecticut? How do you feel now? And if Bush's speech didn't push the message far enough, the pro-war punditocracy, GOP, and Lieberman himself spelled it out in Christmas lights.

Here's the political problem—the PATRIOT Act, the NSA spying program, and all of the other security state measures initiated since 9/11, while upsetting to libertarians (like me), are relatively popular. The Iraq war is not. Arguing that secret government surveillance thwarted an attack is intuitive. Arguing that keeping 138,000 troops in Iraq had something to do with it is counterintuitive.

If the Ned Lamont victory convinced the GOP to swing its national security arguments from the spying issues back to the Iraq war, isn't that a boon for Democrats? It's like taking your army from the high ground and making them confront the opposing force on quicksand.