I don’t often agree with former Rep. Bob Barr. In fact, I used to refer to him as “that little toad” when he was running around sniffing Bill Clinton’s shorts during the impeachment. But this time I’m with him on the protection of the Constitution, and I especially like the way he tears Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA & Nuremberg) a new one on CNN:
Joining us now are two conservative Republicans who have very different views on this issue. From Atlanta, the former Congressman and CNN contributor, Bob Barr, and from Capitol Hill, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
Congressman Barr, what’s wrong with what the president has decided to do?
BOB BARR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What’s wrong with it is several-fold. One, it’s bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it’s bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.
So it’s bad all around, and we need to get to the bottom of this.
BLITZER: Do you agree, Congressman Rohrabacher — I suspect you don’t.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R) CALIFORNIA: No. What’s really bad is the fact that we have an evil opponent who wants to blow us up and that six months after 3,000 of our American citizens were slaughtered right in front of our eyes, that we were confronted with this challenge. I’m really sorry that we have this kind of evil enemy that wants to slaughter us, but I’m very happy that we have a president that, six months after they slaughtered 3,000 of our citizens, he decided to follow up on a lead that was given to our people by breaking up an al Qaeda cell in Pakistan, and followed through on that to make sure that there wasn’t another imminent attack, and thus probably saving many thousands of American lives. We can be proud of President Bush for protecting us.
BLITZER: Congressman Barr, what do you say?
BARR: Well, the fact of the matter is that the Constitution is the Constitution, and I took an oath to abide by it. My good friend, my former colleague, Dana Rohrabacher, did and the president did. And I don’t really care very much whether or not it can be justified based on some hypothetical. The fact of the matter is that, if you have any government official who deliberately orders that federal law be violated despite the best of motives, that certainly ought to be of concern to us.
BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it’s okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.
The fact of the matter is the law prohibits — specifically prohibits — what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn’t matter, I’m proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.
ROHRABACHER: Not only proud, we can be grateful to this president. You know, I’ll have to tell you, if it was up to Mr. Schumer, Senator Schumer, they probably would have blown up the Brooklyn Bridge. The bottom line is this: in wartime we expect our leaders, yes, to exercise more authority.
Now, I have led the fight to making sure there were sunset provisions in the Patriot Act, for example. So after the war, we go back to recognizing the limits of government. But we want to put the full authority that we have and our technology to use immediately to try to thwart terrorists who are going to — how about have a nuclear weapon in our cities?
BARR: And the Constitution be damned, Dana?
ROHRABACHER: Well, I’ll tell you something, if a nuclear weapon goes off in Washington, DC, or New York or Los Angeles, it’ll burn the Constitution as it does. So I’m very happy we have a president that’s going to wiretap people’s communication with people overseas to make sure that they’re not plotting to blow up one of our cities.
BLITZER: We’re out of time, but Bob Barr, I’ll give you the last word.
BARR: Well, first of all, or last of all, this so-called plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was bogus because it had to do with a group of idiots who were planning to dismantle it with blow torches.
Maybe Mr. Barr ought to look into Rep. Rohrabacher for the blowjob he’s giving the administration.
HT to Atrios.