Saturday, December 17, 2005

Rice: Bush lives within the law

President Bush said today that he would not discuss ongoing intelligence operations in the United States, after a report in The New York Times said he secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States.

"We do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country, and the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them," Mr. Bush said in an interview to be broadcast this evening on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer."

Responding to a question from Mr. Lehrer about the report in today's Times, Mr. Bush said: "I will make this point. That whatever I do to protect the American people, and I have an obligation to do so, that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

"We don't talk about sources and methods," Mr. Bush said in the interview, a transcript of which was published on the PBS Web site this afternoon. "Don't talk about ongoing intelligence operations. I know there's speculation. But it's important for the American people to understand that we will do - or I will use my powers to protect us, and I will do so under the law, and that's important for our citizens to understand."

Several leading lawmakers today criticized the action, and Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would place a high priority on holding hearings on the issue early next year.

The importance of the balance between civil liberties and national security has been an emotional issue since Sept. 11. Today several senators held up copies of The Times during a vote on the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, and one Democratic senator, Charles E. Schumer of New York, said the article had influenced him to change his mind and oppose the measure. Supporters fell short of mustering enough votes to bring the measure to a final vote.

The Times report, quoting government officials, said that months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the security agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Mr. Bush also declined to answer questions about the issue after a meeting with Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations about the elections on Thursday in that country.

Earlier, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said that she would not comment on the article, but she emphasized that Mr. Bush has said he acts "within the law."

Read On Since when?

Let's see:

  • Lying to Congress and the people about reasons for prosecuting a war of aggression.
  • Continuing to lie, even after it was clear that the reason for the bombing, invasion and occupation were false.
  • the torture and extremely humiliating abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody.
  • So-called rendition of prisoners to countries where there was little doubt that they would be treated inhumanely and/or tortured.
  • Maintaining "gulags" all over the world, so that American laws would not be broken, by whatever was going on in these facilities.
Of course these are just a few of the examples of George W. Bush "living within the law," eh, Condi?

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