Bush Calls Domestic Spy Program ‘Limited’ President Bush strongly defended his domestic spying program on Sunday, calling it legal as well as vital to thwarting terrorist attacks, and contended the leak making it public had caused “great harm to the nation.”
“This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America and, I repeat, limited,” Bush told reporters after visiting wounded troops at Brooke Army Medical Center. “I think most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy’s thinking.”
Looking within for “enemies” with no oversight?
The New York Times reported last month that the National Security Agency had been conducting warrantless surveillance since 2002. Bush then acknowledged that he had authorized the NSA program and pointed to informing congressional leaders and regular reviews by administration officials as evidence of oversight for the program.
The Justice Department on Friday opened an investigation into the leak that resulted in news stories about the secret order to eavesdrop on Americans with suspected ties to terrorists.
“The fact that somebody leaked this program causes great harm to the United States,” Bush said before returning to Washington from a holiday break at his Texas ranch. “There’s an enemy out there.”
There are good reasons for laws that distinguish between looking “out there” and looking within our own country.
The president denied misleading the public during a 2004 appearance in support of the Patriot Act when he said, “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, a wiretap requires a court order.”
Asked about that Sunday, Bush said: “I was talking about roving wire taps, I believe, involved in the Patriot Act. This is different from the NSA program. The NSA program is a necessary program.”
Didn’t they ream Clinton for mincing his words in a similar fashion?
Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has called for hearings into the program. Sen. Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record), R-Ky., said Sunday that he would prefer that any hearings be held by the Intelligence Committee, which likely would be in secret.
“We’re already talking about this entirely too much out in public as a result of these leaks … and it’s endangering our efforts to make Americans more secure,” McConnell said.
Maybe talking about problems like this in public is a good thing - less chance to hide things that should not be hidden.
Appearing with McConnell on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y., said the Justice Department investigation should explore the motivation of the person who leaked the information.
“Was this somebody who had an ill purpose, trying to hurt the United States?” Schumer asked. “Or might it have been someone in the department who felt that this was wrong, legally wrong, that the law was being violated?”
The motivation of the leaker is irrelevant. What Bush did was wrong - or at least should be in this country.
The political turmoil that lead into World War II, the Communist takeover in Russia, dictatorships that arose in Europe, and Orwell’s book “1984” - all made entire generations of Americans wary of any form of authoritarion government. Apparently we have lost much of that wariness.