Justice Department to declare warrantless wiretaps legal


John Byrne
Published: January 19, 2006

In a detailed 40-page legal memorandum set for release this evening the Bush Justice Department will defend the President's warrantless wiretap program as legal. A copy of the document was leaked to RAW STORY.

"The NSA activities are supported by the President’s well-recognized inherent constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs to conduct warrantless surveillance of enemy forces for intelligence purposes to detect and disrupt armed attacks on the United States," Justice Department lawyers write, referring to the President's order to wiretap Americans' calls overseas.

It adds, "The President has the chief responsibility under the Constitution to protect America from attack, and the Constitution gives the President the authority necessary to fulfill that solemn responsibility."

The first two pages are shown below, with a pdf link to the full document beneath that. Democrats plan unofficial hearings on the legality of the wiretaps Friday (Article here). No formal congressional hearing has been scheduled by the Republican congressional leadership to examine the taps, despite widespread concern among civil liberty advocates and constitutional scholars.