The Early Reviews Are In: Senator Whitehouse’s Big Surveillance Speech Was a Flop

Even liberal law professors are not impressed with the speech that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave last Friday criticizing the President’s use of executive power to conduct intelligence gathering. This is from Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has been one of the very best, most careful and most thoughtful legislators in recent months on a wide range of legal issues relating to the Gonzales DOJ, the war on terror, NSA surveillance, and the like.
Therefore it’s with some regret that I write here to take issue with his latest speech on the Senate floor, expressing his outrage in response to reading classified OLC memos on the NSA surveillance questions. I am confident that there is much in those memos that gave Senator Whitehouse plenty of reason to be shocked and dismayed, and I hope that he will continue to make more of them public. In this case, however, I think Senator Whitehouse has primarily aimed his criticisms at the wrong targets, sorry to say.
…and this is from Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin
Whitehouse doesn’t like the Protect America Act any more than I do. But he should direct his fire at the Congress that produced it last summer in a shameless display of capitulation to demagoguery and fear mongering.
Professor Matthew Franck of Radford University offers a conservative critique of the speech here.

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16 years ago

I have a few friends who are lawyers who I sincerely admire. But it seems to me that the majority of the lawyering profession dedicates itself to the destruction of the truth.
You just know that when Robert Shapiro, Johnny Cochran and F. Lee Bailey were shaving every morning back in the mid ’90’s and looking at themselves in their mirrors, they had moments of truth, (like most people have when they’re looking at themselvers in the mirror), and thought, maybe even mouthed the words, absolutely, 100%, GUILTY! Yet it was their job to seek out the truth and destroy it. They succeeded. And that mattered to them more than the truth.
So too with Whitehouse’s performance: Distort and destroy the facts (even if you couldn’t do it in the mirror) because it promotes “the agenda”. The absence of a press corps interested in the truth may render Whitehouse’s speach, as awful as it was, “a success” in the eyes of the far-left, anti-Bush crowd he coddles. And that matters to him much more than the truth.

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