Blogs > Liberty and Power > Watching You

Dec 1, 2005 12:19 pm

Watching You

Very interesting column by Bob Novak today on FBI abuses under Hoover. Novak recounts a speech by Judge Laurence H. Silberman, who as a deputy attorney general in the Ford administration reported to the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 on secret files kept by J. Edgar Hoover. His experience then was enough to give this FISA court judge pause about government surveillance. (Though he seems to conclude that the real problem was just that Hoover was a bad man).

Novak's piece has something for everyone. Conservatives will love this tale of liberal hypocrisy involving Bill Moyers:

When President Johnson’s aide Walter Jenkins was arrested for homosexual conduct in a men’s room during the 1964 campaign, Silberman said, LBJ aide Bill Moyers directed Hoover to find similar conduct on Barry Goldwater’s staff. “Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files,” he continued. An “outraged” Moyers telephoned Silberman, he said, to assert that the memo was “phony.” “Taken aback,” said Silberman, he offered an investigation to publicly exonerate Moyers. “There was a pause on the line, and then he (Moyers) said, ‘I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?’ “ “Silberman’s account of our conversation is at odds with mine,” Moyers told me when I asked for comment.

Liberals will read the reference to the MLK bugging, recall the history, and wonder how anyone can support enhanced surveillance power for the federal government... and they'll feel that way at least until 2008.

Libertarians will wonder why conservatives want to give the woman who brought you the Travel Office Scandal the ability to build a dossier on anyone in the country.

And libertarians who read the Washington Post every day will wonder why somebody as keenly aware of the potential for government abuses as Silberman apparently is could recommend an expanded surveillance role for the Pentagon:

CIFA's abilities would increase considerably under the proposal being reviewed by the White House, which was made by a presidential commission on intelligence chaired by retired appellate court judge Laurence H. Silberman and former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). The commission urged that CIFA be given authority to carry out domestic criminal investigations and clandestine operations against potential threats inside the United States.

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Barry DeCicco - 12/7/2005

Wasn't he one of the judges who replaced Fisk with Starr, once Fisk cleared the Clintons? Wasn't he somebody who threw out a bunch of Iran-Contra indictments, on novel technicalities? Wasn't he involved with the torture policies of the Bush administration?m Methinks tha Silberman's familiarity with abuse of power comes from helping with the abuse.