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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2006
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EDITORIAL

How will Gonzales tap dance around transcript?

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales deliberately misled the Senate Judiciary Committee about warrantless wiretapping during his confirmation hearing a year ago.

Mr. Gonzales will have to do some fancy footwork next week, when he is to testify before the same Senate committee about the legal rationale behind the controversial spying program.

Asked specifically by Sen. Russ Feingold in January 2005 whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, Mr. Gonzales evaded the question, dismissing it as a "hypothetical situation."

In fact, President Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to begin monitoring e-mails and telephone calls between U.S. citizens and persons in other nations several years earlier — based on Mr. Gonzales' advice as White House counsel.

To sum up: Mr. Gonzales believes that the administrative branch of government has the right to spy on us for our own good; and it may do so without the oversight of the judicial mechanism set up specifically to authorize such spying, and without the knowledge of the legislative branch.

And it is OK to lie when asked about it under oath, especially if your job is on the line.

How will Mr. Gonzales explain his deliberate deception to the senators? He will say he could not discuss or acknowledge the classified program. He deceived the public and the Senate for our own protection and well being.

Certainly, the post-9/11 world requires us to re-examine our priorities as a nation. But when truth becomes a secondary objective, something has gone terribly wrong with our reasoning.

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