To the editor:
President Bush's angry response to the New York Times article revealing this administration's monitoring of U.S. monetary transactions (Journal-World, June 27) misses the most important point. Bush's calling the report "disgraceful" creates a distraction from the underlying issue of legality and the limits of presidential power.
If the administration's goal were simply monitoring potential terrorist behavior, clear legality would strengthen security, not compromise it. Obeying the law rather than circumventing it is a basis of democracy. This and repeated secret "presidential signings," if not illegal, on occasion imply more interest in exercising power and control than on the threat of "terrorism."
Another strategy is, "if we kill the messenger, then perhaps the information will magically be negated." This behavior suppresses legitimate dissent, creating a more anxious public. We can ask, "how could one even question legality with such overwhelming danger?" What is not done is to protect the rights of all people, ourselves, our friends and even our enemies as is mandated in our laws and treaty obligations.
A less anxious and more informed public reassured with legality, judicial oversight, bipartisan representation and more transparent executive behavior is a potential source of strength. Disregarding the law (Journal-World, June 30) means having nothing separating us from our enemies except our might. Looking beyond the immediate emotions elicited by our president and not regressing further into a state of "might makes right" is a strength with which others can identify positively and thus reduce one motivation for terrorism.