It's wonderful that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has a lively imagination, and more wonderful still that he shared it with United States Senators.
Atty. Gen. Gonzales: "... President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale. ''
Perhaps he gets it from his fellows in the Bush Administration; if you can believe, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that WMDs were real, then it's a snap to believe that George Washington had a PDA:
Or maybe he's seen something we haven't -- deep in all the millions of files that the Bush White House has so vigorously re-classified over the last five years, there are startling, top-secret parchment revelations about earlier presidents, memos like these:
"To: Gen. Geo. Washington
"General: Transcripts of Lord Cornwallis' monitored cell phone calls last evening mention that His Lordship spoke more than once upon a 'spotted dick pudding.' Our code-breakers ween this to be some cloaked language of sinister portent, sir, and have set upon working to divine its meaning with all haste and diligence.''
"To: President A. Lincoln
"Mr. President: Enclosed herein are yesterday's logs of intercepts of Blackberry e-mail exchanges between Gen. Lee and Capt. Rhett Butler. Yr obdt servant ... ''
You at home can play along, too. Let's see ... what would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had had cell phones? What if Alexander the Great had had Amoxicillin? What if Abraham Zapruder had had a JVC GY-HD100U High Definition 3-CCD Mini DV Professional Digital Video Camcorder with 16x Pro HD Fujinon lens and 24-Frame Progressive Recording?
In the Supreme Court's first wiretapping case, Olmstead v. United States, in 1928, it was Justice Louis Brandeis who wrote in his dissent, "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent ... the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal ... ''
Gonzales ran from the Senators' legal hypotheticals like they were the bird flu, but maybe next time we hear from the attorney general, he will finally let us know his mind on this hypothetical, a what-if that's obsessed Americans for years: Could Godzilla beat King Kong?