Friday, December 16, 2005

Bush Approved Eavesdropping, Official Says

Back to illegal spying. This is from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON -President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night.

The disclosure follows angry demands by lawmakers earlier in the day for congressional inquiries into whether the monitoring by the highly secretive National Security Agency violated civil liberties.

Bush on Friday refused to discuss whether he had authorized such domestic spying without obtaining warrants from a court, saying that to comment would tie his hands in fighting terrorists.

In a broad defense of the program put forward hours later, however, a senior intelligence official told The Associated Press that the eavesdropping was narrowly designed to go after possible terrorist threats in the United States.

The official said that, since October 2001, the program has been renewed more than three dozen times. Each time, the White House counsel and the attorney general certified the lawfulness of the program, the official said. Bush then signed the authorizations.

During the reviews, government officials have also provided a fresh assessment of the terrorist threat, showing that there is a catastrophic risk to the country or government, the official said.

"Only if those conditions apply do we even begin to think about this," he said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the intelligence operation.

"The president has authorized NSA to fully use its resources--let me underscore this now--consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution to defend the United States and its citizens," the official said, adding that congressional leaders have also been briefed more than a dozen times.

The big question I have to ask here is, did President Bush approve the NSA to wiretap American citizens here on domestic soil, without a search warrant? If Bush approved of the NSA domestically spying on American citizens at home, without a court order, then Bush has circumvented the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits against unlawful searches and seizures. I don't care how much the president wishes to fight against the terrorists--the last thing I want is our government stripping away our constitutional rights. And if the president did order the NSA to spy on American citizens without search warrants, then that is an impeachable offense, and Bush should be removed from office.

This NSA spying case is troubling. I want to know if Bush approved of spying on American citizens, I want to know when this authorization was given, and I want to know who it was used upon. I want to know what the details were in this eavesdropping--which is a fat chance, considering the NSA would declare such details as classified, and revealing them would aid the terrorists. The trouble here is that the Bush White House has consistently lied to the American public regarding terrorism, the war in Iraq, faulty intelligence and the Valerie Plame affair. All of these issues are interconnected with the neoconservative's goal of making the US an imperial power in the Middle East, as per the Project for a New American Century Doctrine. And now with this NSA spying case also coming up--along with the revelations that the White House asked the New York Times to hold off on publishing this story for a year, rather than publishing this story during last year's presidential elections--I'm suppose to believe President Bush's story that this eavesdropping was narrowly defined to "protect the American people," and to "uphold the law, and decisions made are made [with the] understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

I'm suppose to believe that?

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