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  1. #1
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    Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    In Address, Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying
    By DAVID E. SANGER

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - President Bush acknowledged on Saturday that he had ordered the National Security Agency to conduct an electronic eavesdropping program in the United States without first obtaining warrants, and said he would continue the highly classified program because it was "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists."

    In an unusual step, Mr. Bush delivered a live weekly radio address from the White House in which he defended his action as "fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities."

    He also lashed out at senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who voted on Friday to block the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, which expanded the president's power to conduct surveillance, with warrants, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The revelation that Mr. Bush had secretly instructed the security agency to intercept the communications of Americans and terrorist suspects inside the United States, without first obtaining warrants from a secret court that oversees intelligence matters, was cited by several senators as a reason for their vote.

    "In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Mr. Bush said forcefully from behind a lectern in the Roosevelt Room, next to the Oval Office. The White House invited cameras in, guaranteeing television coverage.

    He said the Senate's action "endangers the lives of our citizens," and added that "the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks," a reference to the approaching deadline of Dec. 31, when critical provisions of the current law will end.

    His statement came just a day before he was scheduled to make a rare Oval Office address to the nation, at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, celebrating the Iraqi elections and describing what his press secretary on Saturday called the "path forward."

    Mr. Bush's public confirmation on Saturday of the existence of one of the country's most secret intelligence programs, which had been known to only a select number of his aides, was a rare moment in his presidency. Few presidents have publicly confirmed the existence of heavily classified intelligence programs like this one.

    His admission was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower's in 1960 that he had authorized U-2 flights over the Soviet Union after Francis Gary Powers was shot down on a reconnaissance mission. At the time, President Eisenhower declared that "no one wants another Pearl Harbor," an argument Mr. Bush echoed on Saturday in defending his program as a critical component of antiterrorism efforts.

    But the revelation of the domestic spying program, which the administration temporarily suspended last year because of concerns about its legality, came in a leak. Mr. Bush said the information had been "improperly provided to news organizations."

    As a result of the report, he said, "our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country."

    As recently as Friday, when he was interviewed by Jim Lehrer of PBS, Mr. Bush refused to confirm the report the previous evening in The New York Times that in 2002 he authorized the spying operation by the security agency, which is usually barred from intercepting domestic communications. While not denying the report, he called it "speculation" and said he did not "talk about ongoing intelligence operations."

    But as the clamor over the revelation rose and Vice President Dick Cheney and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, went to Capitol Hill on Friday to answer charges that the program was an illegal assumption of presidential powers, even in a time of war, Mr. Bush and his senior aides decided to abandon that approach.

    "There was an interest in saying more about it, but everyone recognized its highly classified nature," one senior administration official said, speaking on background because, he said, the White House wanted the president to be the only voice on the issue. "This is directly taking on the critics. The Democrats are now in the position of supporting our efforts to protect Americans, or defend positions that could weaken our nation's security."

    Democrats saw the issue differently. "Our government must follow the laws and respect the Constitution while it protects Americans' security and liberty," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the Senate's leading critic of the Patriot Act.

    Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said he would conduct hearings on why Mr. Bush took the action.

    "In addition to what the president said today," Mr. Specter said, "the Judiciary Committee will be interested in its oversight capacity to learn from the attorney general or others in the Department of Justice the statutory or other legal basis for the electronic surveillance, whether there was any judicial review involved, what was the scope of the domestic intercepts, what standards were used to identify Al Qaeda or other terrorist callers, and what was done with this information."

    In a statement, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said she was advised of the president's decision shortly after he made it and had "been provided with updates on several occasions."

    "The Bush administration considered these briefings to be notification, not a request for approval," Ms. Pelosi said. "As is my practice whenever I am notified about such intelligence activities, I expressed my strong concerns during these briefings."

    In his statement on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not address the main question directed at him by some members of Congress on Friday: why he felt it necessary to circumvent the system established under current law, which allows the president to seek emergency warrants, in secret, from the court that oversees intelligence operations. His critics said that under that law, the administration could have obtained the same information.

    The president said on Saturday that he acted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks because the United States had failed to detect communications that might have tipped them off to the plot. He said that two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, "communicated while they were in the United States to other members of Al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late."

    As a result, "I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations," Mr. Bush said. "This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security."

    Mr. Bush said that every 45 days the program was reviewed, based on "a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland."

    "I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related groups," Mr. Bush said. He said Congressional leaders had been repeatedly briefed on the program, and that intelligence officials "receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization."

    The Patriot Act vote in the Senate, a day after Mr. Bush was forced to accept an amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that places limits on interrogation techniques that can be used by C.I.A. officers and other nonmilitary personnel, was a setback to the president's assertion of broad powers. In both cases, he lost a number of Republicans along with almost all Democrats.

    "This reflects a complete transformation of the debate in America over torture," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. "After the attacks, no politician was heard expressing any questions about the executive branch's treatment of captured terrorists."

    Mr. Bush's unusual radio address is part of a broader effort this weekend to regain the initiative, after weeks in which the political ground has shifted under his feet. The Oval Office speech on Sunday, a formal setting that he usually tries to avoid, is his first there since March 2003, when he informed the world that he had ordered the Iraq invasion.

    White House aides say they intend for this speech to be a bookmark in the Iraq experience: As part of the planned address, Mr. Bush appears ready to at least hint at reductions in troop levels.

    There are roughly 160,000 American troops in Iraq, a number that was intended to keep order for Thursday's parliamentary elections.

    The American troop level was already scheduled to decline to 138,000 - what the military calls its "baseline" level - after the election.

    But on Friday, as the debate in Washington swirled over the president's order, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, hinted that further reductions may be on the way.

    "We're doing our assessment, and I'll make some recommendations in the coming weeks about whether I think it's prudent to go below the baseline," General Casey told reporters in Baghdad.

  2. #2
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    His admission was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower's in 1960 that he had authorized U-2 flights over the Soviet Union after Francis Gary Powers was shot down on a reconnaissance mission. At the time, President Eisenhower declared that "no one wants another Pearl Harbor," an argument Mr. Bush echoed on Saturday in defending his program as a critical component of antiterrorism efforts.
    Sorry for chopping out most of your post but I just wanted to comment on this bit!
    At the risk of being labelled a brain-dead neocon(which if the truth be known I probably am, I'm not that fussed about labels) I think the need for accurate intel is essential to the protection of our people. If we had the intel on the location of the Japanesee Fleet in '41 Pearl Harbor would not have happened, thousands of American lives would have been saved and who knows, the Japs might have been stopped dead in their tracks.
    I wouldnt mind giving up a little of my privacy if it meant nabbing the odd terrorist or two. And besides, what have I got to hide?

  3. #3
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by catch-22
    Sorry for chopping out most of your post but I just wanted to comment on this bit!
    At the risk of being labelled a brain-dead neocon(which if the truth be known I probably am, I'm not that fussed about labels) I think the need for accurate intel is essential to the protection of our people. If we had the intel on the location of the Japanesee Fleet in '41 Pearl Harbor would not have happened, thousands of American lives would have been saved and who knows, the Japs might have been stopped dead in their tracks.
    I wouldnt mind giving up a little of my privacy if it meant nabbing the odd terrorist or two. And besides, what have I got to hide?
    Well, I'm sure some of those nabbed as terrorists thought the same things. And from what I've read about WW2 we did have warning that Japan was going to attack and ignored it just like we ignored the 9/11 intel.

    It seems that we only get ourselves in trouble when we ignore the warning signs we've been told about.

    Namaste'

    Lady Mod

  4. #4
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by catch-22
    Sorry for chopping out most of your post but I just wanted to comment on this bit!
    At the risk of being labelled a brain-dead neocon(which if the truth be known I probably am, I'm not that fussed about labels) I think the need for accurate intel is essential to the protection of our people. If we had the intel on the location of the Japanesee Fleet in '41 Pearl Harbor would not have happened, thousands of American lives would have been saved and who knows, the Japs might have been stopped dead in their tracks.
    I wouldnt mind giving up a little of my privacy if it meant nabbing the odd terrorist or two. And besides, what have I got to hide?
    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -- Benjamin Franklin


    President Roosevelt (FDR) provoked the attack, knew about it in advance and covered up his failure to warn the Hawaiian commanders. FDR needed the attack to sucker Hitler to declare war, since the public and Congress were overwhelmingly against entering the war in Europe. It was his backdoor to war.

    FDR blinded the commanders at Pearl Harbor and set them up by -

    1. denying intelligence to Hawaii (HI)
    2. on Nov 27, misleading the commanders into thinking negotiations with Japan were continuing
    3. having false information sent to HI about the location of the Japanese carrier fleet.

    http://www.worldnewsstand.net/msc/Pearl.htm

  5. #5
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    Well, I'm sure some of those nabbed as terrorists thought the same things. And from what I've read about WW2 we did have warning that Japan was going to attack and ignored it just like we ignored the 9/11 intel.

    It seems that we only get ourselves in trouble when we ignore the warning signs we've been told about.

    Namaste'

    Lady Mod
    And when we take action too. Apparently!

  6. #6
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by dante
    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -- Benjamin Franklin


    President Roosevelt (FDR) provoked the attack, knew about it in advance and covered up his failure to warn the Hawaiian commanders. FDR needed the attack to sucker Hitler to declare war, since the public and Congress were overwhelmingly against entering the war in Europe. It was his backdoor to war.

    FDR blinded the commanders at Pearl Harbor and set them up by -

    1. denying intelligence to Hawaii (HI)
    2. on Nov 27, misleading the commanders into thinking negotiations with Japan were continuing
    3. having false information sent to HI about the location of the Japanese carrier fleet.

    http://www.worldnewsstand.net/msc/Pearl.htm
    Yeah, sure thing Dante. Got anything sensible to say?

  7. #7
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by catch-22
    And when we take action too. Apparently!
    LOL, or butting our "nose" in where it's not welcome.

    It may be that the only reason this doesn't turn into WW3 is because we now attack smaller, less capable nations. We have longer wars perhaps, but we are the big boys on the block that the other kids get picked on by and until those little kids give up OR the big GANG from another nation decides to side with the little guys we will continue to walk the streets flexing our muscle.

    Heaven help us if one of those other big gangs decides to get involved.

    Lady Mod

  8. #8
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by catch-22
    Yeah, sure thing Dante. Got anything sensible to say?
    What is more sensible than the truth and the information to back it up?

    I know from another thread that Dante is not your favorite person, but he has done nothing to warrant such an attack.

    Lady Mod

  9. #9
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    Re: Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    What is more sensible than the truth and the information to back it up?

    I know from another thread that Dante is not your favorite person, but he has done nothing to warrant such an attack.

    Lady Mod
    My apologies to Dante. I did read the link. There is nothing there that says FDR ignored any warning signs or intel. He just chose not to accept it as the truth. Bush accepted his intel as the truth as is being crucified for it. (at least on this board, he is)

    Quote Originally Posted by sojustask
    LOL, or butting our "nose" in where it's not welcome.

    It may be that the only reason this doesn't turn into WW3 is because we now attack smaller, less capable nations. We have longer wars perhaps, but we are the big boys on the block that the other kids get picked on by and until those little kids give up OR the big GANG from another nation decides to side with the little guys we will continue to walk the streets flexing our muscle.

    Heaven help us if one of those other big gangs decides to get involved.

    Lady Mod
    So who did we used to attack?
    Little kids like Hussein, you mean?
    I am not angry so please don't read anger into my posts. If we don't shut down the Husseins of this world our credo of freedom will soon become meaningless.

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