View Full Version : Bush Says Domestic Spying Does Not Violate Civil Liberties

05-14-2006, 10:41 AM
Bush says domestic spying does not violate civil liberties
Extols nominee for top CIA post

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/05/14/bush_says_domestic_spying_does_not_violate_civil_l iberties/

By Deb Riechmann, Associated Press | May 14, 2006

WASHINGTON -- President Bush yesterday defended the scope of the government's domestic surveillance programs that have riled privacy advocates and threatened to impede the Senate confirmation of his choice to lead the CIA.

''The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

''The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval," he said. ''We are not trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

Bush made his remarks two days after news reports revealed that the National Security Agency was collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans.

In a separate development, The New York Times reported in today's editions that in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney urged the administration to empower the NSA to intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants.

NSA lawyers insisted, however, that any warrantless eavesdropping aimed at foiling terrorism be limited to communications into and out of the country, the Times said, citing two senior intelligence officials. The NSA position prevailed in the administration debate.

In his radio talk, Bush sought to separate the debate about the NSA program from the upcoming confirmation hearings for General Michael V. Hayden, his nominee to replace Porter Goss as director of the CIA.

Hayden was the principal architect and overseer of the eavesdropping program, which has been criticized by lawmakers from both parties. Critics say the program sidesteps a special federal court established to issue secret warrants for foreign intelligence surveillance.

Without specifically confirming the telephone database effort, Bush yesterday defended the intelligence activities he has authorized, saying they are focused on Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates. He reiterated that they are lawful and that appropriate members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, have been briefed on the surveillance activities.

''Americans expect their government to do everything in its power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties," Bush said. ''That is exactly what we are doing. And so far, we have been successful in preventing another attack on our soil."

Two New Jersey public interest lawyers, however, sued Verizon Communications Inc. on Friday for $5 billion, claiming that the phone carrier violated privacy laws by turning over customers' records. The lawsuit asks the court to stop Verizon from supplying the information without a warrant or the consent of the subscriber.

''This is the largest and most vast intrusion of civil liberties we've ever seen in the United States," lawyer Bruce Afran said.

In defending Hayden, Bush noted that the former NSA director was unanimously confirmed last year for his post as deputy national intelligence director.