Time's Joe Klein gets everything wrong in column about NSA domestic spying

Joe Klein's latest column in Time Magazine badly butchers the debate over the NSA's program of wiretapping Americans without judicial oversight. Klein gets every single salient detail wrong, making it sounds like the Democrats are bent on hobbling the NSA's activities in wiretapping actual terrorist abroad, when in fact the bill is aimed at ensuring that domestic surveillance is undertaken in accord with the rule of law. Ryan Singel has the detailed scoop at Wired's Threat Level.
If the NSA can only get at a suspected foreign target by wiretapping them inside the United States and they think the target may talk to Americans, the bill would require them to prove to the FISA court that they have probable cause to believe the target is a foreigner. If it's an emergency, they can start tapping and days later provide "probable cause" that the foreigner is a foreigner to the secret court.

That's what Klein calls giving "terrorists the same legal protections as Americans." In the case of targeting Americans inside America, the government has to prove much more - mainly that the government has good reason to believe that the American is an agent of a foreign power or is a terrorist.

Moreover, Klein can't even figure out that the House bill that passed last week IS the House Intelligence Committee's bill, not some Democratic substitute masterminded by Pelosi...

I have no idea how Klein managed to keep a mainstream media job after lying about his anonymous authorship of Primary Colors (after my Shakespeare professor Donald Foster outed him using textual analysis software).

But Time ought to stop Klein from writing about any substantive topic, especially FISA.

Because when it comes to these topics, Klein is well beyond stupid. He's dangerous.

Link (Thanks, Tom!)


  1. Don’t you get it? Joe Klein is a propagandist and Time magazine has been a propaganda organ for decades.

    Go ahead and feel betrayed by Klein and Time, but it’s like feeling betrayed by the endless intentional falsehoods of our president and others.

    Klein is not “getting it all wrong.” He, like the president, is a professional liar.

  2. As an aside, it really bothers me how many governments (and some citizens) all ’round the world seem to think it’s perfectly okay to trample all over people’s privacy and basic rights, just as long as they only do it to “foreigners”. Since I’m not a US citizen, the US government can intercept all my emails if it wants to, and it seems that this sort of behaviour is considered to be A-OK.

    Meanwhile, the Japanese government is going to be fingerprinting and photographing me every time I enter the country from now on – which they won’t be doing to any Japanese people, since (surprise surprise) it’s illegal to require them to do so unless they are accused of committing a crime. And what rights do I have to ensure that this data isn’t misused? I suspect none at all.

    The whole idea of basic rights becomes nonsense if you think it’s okay for them to only apply to “your own” people.

  3. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Ben F. ?

  4. I’ve been watching this issue and related ones and Democrat notwithstanding, Pelosi will be pushing for a compromise, she won’t be backing the ban on retroactive immunity for telcos, starting to grumble about it not being the telcos’ fault (aka the Yahoo defense). And Arlen Specter (PA; ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary) is calling for “substitution,” where the government would basically be sitting-in in the place of the telcos in any lawsuit related to their possible violations of law.

    As of now, that is the only “compromise” on the table. It’s just sad.

    Folks need to call Specter’s office in the next week telling him that substitution is NOT an acceptable option and Pelosi’s office to tell her that it’s one thing to cooperate with the government on homeland security issues and quite another to go along with clearly illegal requests.

  5. Joe Klein is not the only media star who is either incompetent or a liar or both. Judy Miller comes to mind. David Broder is another. Scottie, formerly white house flack/liar, leaks a snippet that promises to uncover Bush and Cheney as those who were “involved” in the leak of Ms. Plame’s status as a CIA spy, but then within 24 hours he backtracks and says, uh, Bush may have given him false information, but you see he didn’t KNOW it was false. The list is endless, and America seems on the verge of collapsing into a corrupt fascist state. The real tragedy here is that the majority of Americans are either idiots or are too busy pissing their pants in fear of terrists to do anything about it. It’s just too much TROUBLE to think, or to act. Look at the Democrats in congress. How they can go home for Thanksgiving and look their constitutents in the eye is beyond me. They’re all cowards, and essentially traitors.

  6. Wow, everyone here gets it. A couple of years ago that wouldn’t have been true. Interesting that isn’t it?

    Now all we need is to realize that we have the power to stop this shit.

  7. I like Joe Klein. He writes readable, cogent pieces that do a nice job of humanizing his subjects. He expresses his opinions well and, when on television, seems like a really decent guy. Maybe it’s the beard, which makes him look like a Rabbi Santa Claus. Whatever.

    If Klein has a problem, it’s credibility. It wouldn’t be a big deal to me, except that my traditional notion of journalism really emphasis credibility as a keystone trait. So he’s not much of a journalist.

    I think he’d make a hell of a blogger, though, if he can make that transition. Until he escapes the expectations of truth which hound all mainstream media types, he’ll never be able to properly express himself.

  8. “Because when it comes to these topics, Klein is well beyond stupid. He’s dangerous”

    Republican presidential material!

  9. I think he’d make a hell of a blogger, though, if he can make that transition. Until he escapes the expectations of truth which hound all mainstream media types, he’ll never be able to properly express himself.

    Why? Because bloggers don’t have an expectation of truth? Let’s not let the behavior of idiots like Michelle Malkin and the crew at Powerline define what is and isn’t acceptable for bloggers.

    Josh Marshall, Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Singel (who wrote TFA) immediately come to mind as examples of bloggers who are ethical, reliable, and credible. You’ll also note that they’re not Bush loyalists, which isn’t a coincidence.

  10. @Wil,

    I think we expect people, including bloggers, to tell us the truth as they see it. I was raised with a fantasy notion that “journalists” should report the “facts,” scrubbed of personal content to the best of their ability, and this is what we don’t expect from our bloggers, or from each other.

    Facts are fine, until the scrubbing of opinion leads to an apathy of judgment. This is Joe Klein’s problem, as I see it: He has been scrubbing his own judgment out of the picture for so long that he lacks the ability to substitute his own good sense for someone else’s information, when that information is clearly ridiculous. One might say that he’s been lobotomized by the scalpel of cynicism.

    As for TPM v. Powerline, they are both laden with opinion and personal judgment, and we as readers are better for it in both cases. Would you want the fellows at Powerline to hide their idiocy behind a veil of objectivity as Fox and other traditional media types are wont to do? We’re better off, perhaps, just ridding ourselves of the objectivity myth and letting the opinion pages have at each other with their own versions of the story, and may the most factual win.

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