I heard this part of this interview Sunday morning, but I was still wrapping up a paper Monday and couldn’t post the details. I nearly spit my diet coke at the TV when Koppel said “If 9/11 had happened on Bill Clinton’s watch, he would have gone into Iraq.” When I cruised through blog sites yesterday, I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t seeing more about it, but apparently, a few people have finally taken notice.
But Koppel topped himself when he declared that the American people will probably agree that Bush needs the power to spy on US citizens, in order to keep them safe:
MR. KOPPEL: We do a great job, Tim, of patting ourselves on the backs, not just the media but the great American democracy, for how much we believe in the process of disclosure, of public debate, of fully vetting the issues and deciding them through our elected representatives. In point of fact, often as not, we don’t do that. Often as not the decision is made that you, the public, simply are not mature enough or sophisticated enough to understand everything that’s at stake here. What scares the heck out of me is that there will be another terrorist attack in this country. And after the next terrorist attack, if it’s anything like 9/11, there won’t be any debate about whether the government should have the right to eavesdrop. The appropriate time to have this discussion, this debate, in Congress, in the media, is now.
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MR. KOPPEL: Because after the next event, it’ll be Katy, bar the door. Why didn’t you do more? And the fact of the matter is, in saying we need the debate, I’m not prejudging what the outcome would be. Quite frankly, I think the outcome may well be that the American public, through its elected representatives, will say, “You know something? We feel the president needs that right. He has to have the right to be able to order the wiretapping of terrorist suspects.”
MR. RUSSERT: Let’s have the debate.
MR. KOPPEL: But let’s have the debate. Let’s argue these issues out before it’s too late.
(Now how exactly is it that he is not “prejudging what the outcome would be”?) Transcript here. Emphasis, mine.