sucker.gifIn an evident bid to replace Harriet Miers as the number one go-to frothy apologist for the Bush Junta, Newsweek jumps into the wiretapping fray this morning:

The message to White House lawyers from their commander in chief, recalls one who was deeply involved at the time, was clear enough: find a way to exercise the full panoply of powers granted the president by Congress and the Constitution. If that meant pushing the boundaries of the law, so be it. The Bush administration did not throw away the Bill of Rights in the months and years that followed; indeed, NEWSWEEK has learned, ferocious behind-the-scenes infighting stalled for a time the administration’s ambitious program of electronic spying on U.S. citizens at home and abroad.

They remove the anodized knee pads momentarily however to lapse into a bit of actual news:

On one day in the spring of 2004, White House chief of staff Andy Card and the then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a bedside visit to John Ashcroft, attorney general at the time, who was stricken with a rare and painful pancreatic disease, to try — without success — to get him to reverse his deputy, Acting Attorney General James Comey, who was balking at the warrantless eavesdropping. Miffed that Comey, a straitlaced, by-the-book former U.S. attorney from New York, was not a "team player" on this and other issues, President George W. Bush dubbed him with a derisive nickname, "Cuomo," after Mario Cuomo, the New York governor who vacillated over running for president in the 1980s. (The White House denies this; Comey declined to comment.)

Abu and Card were not successful in getting even the wingiest of the wingnuts, John Ashcroft, to sign off on their little scheme.

And in the midst of all the drum-beating about protecting the country from terrorists, a man who has more anti-terrorism bona fides than all of the BushCo. yellow elephants combined — James Comey — is saddled with a belittling nickname and derided for refusing to ignore his own pangs of conscience with regard to that pesky Constitution.

Meanwhile, it does raise several questions. If Abu Gonzales was involved in this nasty business all along, shouldn’t he be recusing himself from oversight of any Justice Department investigation?

And who exactly were they wiretapping that this bothered both Ashcroft and Comey so much? As Digby notes, they’ve called us traitors to our faces. Trusting souls like Jonah Goldberg may rest easy in the belief that they were only wiretapping terrorists, but even William Safire believes that’s a load of bollocks.

I guess you can start peeling off the Libertarians from the coalition of the duped.

Update: In lieu of any poll that asks a legitimate question about illegal, warrantless wiretapping engaged in by the administration, you can express your own opinions in Newsweek’s own poll, currently running 85% against. Perhaps it will act as a cure to their euphoria.