Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Bush: Listening for Al Queda, not you. Intel activities are ``lawful.'' Your privacy is ok, Prez says. You agree?

| 6 Comments

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Spector (R-Pa.) wants to haul AT&T, Verizon and Bell South up to Capitol Hill for hearings in the wake of the USA Today story about the NSA intercepting phone calls.

Discusses NSA Surveillance Program
Diplomatic Reception Room

THE PRESIDENT: After September the 11th, I vowed to the American people that our government would do everything within the law to protect them against another terrorist attack. As part of this effort, I authorized the National Security Agency to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. In other words, if al Qaeda or their associates are making calls into the United States or out of the United States, we want to know what they're saying.


Today there are new claims about other ways we are tracking down al Qaeda to prevent attacks on America. I want to make some important points about what the government is doing and what the government is not doing.

First, our international activities strictly target al Qaeda and their known affiliates. Al Qaeda is our enemy, and we want to know their plans. Second, the government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval. Third, the intelligence activities I authorized are lawful and have been briefed to appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Fourth, the privacy of ordinary Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.

We're not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to al Qaeda and their known affiliates. So far we've been very successful in preventing another attack on our soil.

As a general matter, every time sensitive intelligence is leaked, it hurts our ability to defeat this enemy. Our most important job is to protect the American people from another attack, and we will do so within the laws of our country.

Thank you.

END 12:05 P.M. EDT

6 Comments

Ok thet claim this is legal.I am Republican and a veteran I do not like my rights taken away.And why won't Speaker of the House J.Dennis Hastert not hold hearings that both Democrats and Republicans want?It is just common since that this program is wrong.If this program is legal how do we know it will not be used for political reasons.And show me the law that give them the right to listen to everyday people.

How else can the Bush Administration identify who
the whistle blowers are within their ranks?
With all the whistle blowing that exposed the secret kidnaping of terror suspects, torture of untried detainees, eavesdropping on innocent U.S. citizens, illegal leaking of CIA agent’s
identity, and illegal government contracts going
to the Vice President’s cronies at Haliburton.

Can you blame the President and his administration for their illegal eavesdropping and vehement defense of the program once it was exposed? How else can the Bush Administration identify who the whistle blowers are within their ranks? What would you do if you had unlimited power?

"Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Spector (R-Pa.) wants to haul AT&T, Verizon and Bell South up to Capitol Hill for hearings in the wake of the USA Today story about the NSA intercepting phone calls."

The phone companies' turning Americans' private information over to the Bush Admin. reminds me of nothing more than the way that Yahoo, et al turned the names of political dissidents over to the Chinese government.

It is nice to know that corporations that profit from the *idea* of freedom of speech will still support spying by a totalitarian government, whether foreign or domestic.

I know the president isn't much of a fan of Latin, but "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" sure springs to mind at the moment, and "Who watches the watchmen?" has never been a more appropriate question to ask. Bush praised the CIA for its 'secrecy and accountability' as he showed Porter Goss the door, but does anyone else see the inherent contradiction in those two traits? How can you be held accountable for all the things you do in secret? Frankly I'm tired of this canard about the need for secrecy, lest the boogie-men figure out what we're doing to oppose them. This was proved absolutely FALSE on September 11, 2001, when 15 hijackers managed to pilot 3 aircrafts into buildings, while the passengers sat and prayed. Were they cowards? No. They simply were in the dark. The hijackers were able to seize the plane armed with little more than box cutters because the passengers were operating under the old assumptions--play along with the unreasonable men, because help is on the way. If the Bush Administration has taught the American People and the world anything, it is that help is NEVER on the way. From New Orleans to Darfur, help is never on the way. But then something curious happened on United Flight 93. Armed with information culled from cell phones--cell phones the FAA bans from in-flight use--the passengers learned the truth. They were forced out of darkness into the light, and when they were informed, they acted as informed Americans have ALWAYS acted--with courage. With honor. With sacrifice. "No greater love has a man than when he lays down his life for a friend?" Those passengers loved America a thousand times more than Bush and his cronies ever could. Armed with information, and the resolve to carry through, no matter what, they showed us in our darkest hour what it means to be American.
Trust us, Bush says. 200 people on three airplanes trusted Bush, and 3000 people on the ground died. 45 people on Flight 93 sought out their own information, and saved countless lives. Bush claims that the most dangerous thing is a transparent government. I wonder...dangerous to whom? General Von Steuben once said, "[T]he genius of this nation is not in the least to be compared with that of the Prussians, Austrians or French. You say to your soldier, ‘Do this, and he doeth it’; but I am obliged to say, ‘This is the reason why you ought to do that; and then he does it.’" Let's hear it for American Ingenuity.

Since Bush's "When is a leak not a leak" performance in trying to explain Pflamegate, it's hard to take him seriously when he complains about others doing the same thing. That's sad because he does have a legitimate concern about not being able to get things done because of internal sabotage.

First, Bush denied tapping internal calls in the US. He said that the only calls being monitored were calls that either originated in a foreign country or were to a foreign country to the US.

So NOW we're supposed to believe him when he says that the calls do not have personal information? Right. I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you...

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 11, 2006 5:02 PM.

Sweet column: Hillary talks about running for president. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: When it comes to earmarks (aka pork), Duckworth with McCain. Roskam with Durbin. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.