The Week
(Roman Genn)


A Battle Joined
It’s not quite Taft vs. Eisenhower, but the intra-conservative division over civil liberties and foreign policy has come to the fore in a way it has not in decades. In the House, nearly half the Republicans voted for an amendment to end the National Security Agency’s program of tracking which phone numbers Americans are calling: a program begun under the Bush administration and supported by many of its national-security appointees. New Jersey governor Chris Christie, asked about a rising strain of libertarianism among his fellow Republicans, said that it was “dangerous” and suggested that some politicians — he was asked about Senator Rand Paul specifically — had forgotten about the victims of September 11. Senator Paul returned fire several times — for example, accusing Christie of shortchanging national defense by asking for federal money after Hurricane Sandy.

We share some of the misgivings that critics of the NSA have expressed. In particular, we think it was a mistake to envelop the program in so much secrecy. But the government ought to have the capacity to find patterns of phone activity associated with terrorism and then, with a court order, to take further action. If we need more procedural safeguards to protect innocent Americans’ privacy than are currently in place, then Congress should legislate them. Abolishing the program altogether would be rash and irresponsible.

August 19, 2013    |     Volume LXV, No. 15

Books, Arts & Manners
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .