L.A. Times Editors Need to Learn How to Read Their Own Paper
L.A. Times editors published an editorial about Sam Alito this morning. It said, among other things:
In discussing the landmark case holding President Truman’s seizure of some steel mills during the Korean War unconstitutional, Alito agreed that presidential authority is severely constrained when he acts against the expressed will of Congress. That is the context in which President Bush has allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop, without any court warrant, on phone calls in the United States.
The editors appear blissfully unaware that this is a hotly contested issue. Perhaps they missed what their own paper printed about the issue on December 20, because it was buried on Page A32:
Bush and Gonzales also said Congress had authorized such extraordinary measures in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The “Authorization for Use of Military Force” adopted by Congress said the president could “use all necessary and appropriate force” to capture those who planned the attacks and “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States.” Several legal experts said this was a stronger justification for Bush’s action.
“I think the [congressional] authorization of use of military force is probably adequate as an authorization for surveillance,” said Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor.
If Sunstein (a self-described liberal) is correct, then Bush was not acting “against the expressed will of Congress,” but rather in accordance with that expressed will.
The editors need to learn to read their own paper more carefully. Here’s a hint, editors: your colleagues on the news side don’t always put everything important on the front page, so you have to read the whole story — even if it means turning all the way to Page A32.
P.S. The editorial doesn’t bother to take a stand on Alito. My guess is that they are in the same position as Senate Democrats: they don’t want to go on record supporting him, but they can’t think of a defensible reason not to. Unlike the Senate Democrats, the editors can just duck and refuse to take a position — and that’s what they’re doing today.