The Most Important Question
From Bush’s press conference yesterday, justifying his violation of US laws:
“[I]t was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war.”
“We’re at war, and we must protect America’s secrets.”
“[T]his is a different — a different era, a different war.”
Given how centrally Bush is relying on the notion that the US is currently at “war” against terrorists when explaining his authority to override US law (note that the “war” he is referring to is not the war in Iraq, but rather the “War on Terror”), there is one central, crucial question that I think the press corps needs to ask again and again, until it is answered: When will this “war” end?
Will the US be in a “time of war” forever? If not, when will the US be able to declare victory in this “war”? When there is no person left on the planet who would like to commit an act of terrorism? When there is no person left in the world who would like to harm Americans? When there are just 10 terrorists left, or 100, or 1000? What are the possible scenarios under which this “war” could be declared to be finished? Or is this state of “war” for the US permanent?
Bush was asked something similar yesterday and refused to answer. But a straightfoward answer to this question would be hugely illuminating, because the answer would tell us Bush’s view about when the President will have to resume upholding the laws of the United States.