Archive for Saturday, August 19, 2006

Bush defends surveillance program

President expects to win appeal of federal judge’s ruling

August 19, 2006


— President Bush on Friday criticized a federal court ruling that said his warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional, declaring that opponents "do not understand the nature of the world in which we live."

"I strongly disagree with that decision, strongly disagree," Bush said, striking his finger on a podium to underscore his point. "That's why I instructed the Justice Department to appeal immediately, and I believe our appeals will be upheld."

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit on Thursday was the first to find the National Security Agency surveillance program unconstitutional. The program involves monitoring international phone calls and e-mails to and from the United States involving people with suspected ties to terrorists.

"If al-Qaida is calling in to the United States, we want to know why they're calling," Bush said.

Critics say the surveillance program skirts the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court warrants for domestic eavesdropping. The administration has argued that obtaining warrants from a secret court set up under FISA is a time-consuming process unsuited for the government's fast-moving war on terror.

The judge said the government, in defending the program, appeared to be saying the president had the "inherent power" to violate laws of Congress.

"It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control," Taylor wrote in a 43-page opinion. "There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all 'inherent powers' must derive from that Constitution."

Members of Bush's economic team stood alongside the president as he spoke under bright sunshine at the Camp David helipad. Among attendees were Vice President Dick Cheney, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

The meeting came at a time when only 37 percent of Americans support Bush's handling of the economy, according to AP-Ipsos polling in early August.


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