I’m glad that Jack Goldsmith is not as bad as John Yoo. But he’s bad enough. Goldsmith simply labels as “crucial” or “essential” any illegal activity that he wishes to allow the President to engage in. Presumably, Yoo believes that torture is “crucial” while Goldsmith does not. As he has done before, Goldsmith insists that the threat that Osama et al. pose to the U.S. is as grave, if not graver, than the threat we faced in WWII. That is absurd. In 1940 the U.S. was all but unarmed. Hitler was in command of the most powerful army in the world, and allied with both the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan. Today we waste more money on defense than we spent back in 1940, and we are allied in some manner with every modern nation in the world. Goldsmith represents the “respectable” conservatives who believe that the Republican Party cannot win a presidential election unless the U.S. has an “enemy.” He is happy to lie to the American people if it will help his party win an election.
Alan Vanneman
This whole controversy astonishes me.It apparently revolves around two things: 1) A lot of money is transferred around the world on a daily basis 2) Most of it is processerd by SWIFT. From the above we can easily infer that if you are going to monitor these transactions, SWIFT would be the place to do it(as would be the Fed or some correspondent banks be the place if the transfers were within the US) All that remains is to assume that not all of Bush’s appointees are in the Brownie or Doug Feith category and that someone is going to decide that tracking these transactions is a good idea.I assure you that all the facts cited above about money transfers can be found in any elementary textbook on banking, so my question is:what exactly is it that Lichtbau are revealing. If the only thing they are disclosing is that our security forces, using access to SWIFT, are monitoring certain individuals and groups(and you can bet they knew who they were), what is all the excitement about?
With Goldsmith the adults are back in the room. He calmly shreds Lichtblau’s and the Times’s claims with better arguments and strikes needed and grown up balances between the need to protect against terror and the role and place of a free press, the problems with too much secrecy in the former and the problems with empty headed, self righteous, self aggrandizement in the latter. He dismisses nothing by labels and is remarkably rigorous in arguing for his positions and taking on analytically the claims he criticizes. The comparison between what America faces now from its radical haters is unique and dangerous and unprecedented enough not to need inapt comparison to what it faced in World War 11. It may comes a blaring new news to some, but America has an “enemy” and Goldsmith disinterestedly discusses the reality and the implications of that, as 9/11-apart from its own terrible and tragic destruction- catalyzed the public perception of this enemy. Only a fool, would fall into his own uttered criticism and dismiss Goldsmith by labeling him a liar. I don’t know enough about SWIFT to assess whether the revelation of its details gave the enemy an edge. But I have to think so preumptively. The tracking and monitoring of the international flows of hatred-steeped capital, for the little I do understand them, involved intricate and sophisticated software tracking data and patterns of analysis. Goldsmith, as a public intellectual, operates in good faith. And if there were no point to keeping SWIFT classified, becuase revealing it taught the enemy nothing new, he would say so. He is, after all, not in his book unsparing in his devastating criticism of the excessive and wrong headed secrecy practiced by Bush et al, even as he, like a grown up, fairly contextualizes it. Finally to compare Douglas Feith, a smart and well spoken man who did what he thought was best in the circumstances-see Christopher Hitchens’s review of his recent book, the review in Slate-to Brownie shows an unknowingness and failure to make discriminating judgments comparable to what?


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