Newsweek's Alter: "Bush Thought 9/11 Gave Him License to Act Like a Dictator"

It may not be as inane as Anna Quindlen's lumping of Nazis with the religious right, but Jonathan Alter's web-only piece about President Bush and the NSA "scandal" nonetheless contains some of this week's worst overstatements from a Newsweek columnist. (Hat tips to Kathryn Lopez and Jonah Goldberg in the Corner.)

Excerpts from Alter on what he calls "Snoopgate" (fo' shizzle!):

President Bush...made it seem as if those who didn’t agree with him wanted to leave us vulnerable to Al Qaeda—but it will not work. We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator, or in his own mind, no doubt, like Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War...

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference...

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker...

This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

In the meantime, it is unlikely that Bush will echo President Kennedy in 1961. After JFK managed to tone down a New York Times story by Tad Szulc on the Bay of Pigs invasion, he confided to Times editor Turner Catledge that he wished the paper had printed the whole story because it might have spared him such a stunning defeat in Cuba.

This time, the president knew publication would cause him great embarrassment and trouble for the rest of his presidency. It was for that reason—and less out of genuine concern about national security—that George W. Bush tried so hard to kill the New York Times story.

War on Terrorism Newsweek