Q Another question. It's our understanding this power has been used 18,000-plus times. Are we to presume that there are that many al Qaeda agents in this country?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into talking about more than what we've said publicly. That's getting into more than what we've talked about publicly, so I'm not in a position to confirm or deny the numbers that you threw out there. And we don't want to go into greater detail because it's important that the enemy not have a sense of what we're working to do, because they can change and adapt. They can -- and they do. They're constantly changing and adapting. This is a sophisticated and deadly enemy that is constantly trying to change and adapt, and that moves with great speed when they need to. We must move --
Q -- give us an indication of how often this power is used?
MR. McCLELLAN: We must move with great speed to stay ahead of them.
Q You don't want to give us an indication of how often this power is used, and you don't want to give us an indication of the size of the potential threat in this country>
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think, again, the Attorney General and General Hayden talked a little bit about this yesterday, but I talked about the nature of this authorization and the scope of it, and I talked about the safeguards and oversight that are in place. This is very carefully reviewed every 45 days and it --
Q I really don't need you to go there.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, no, but this goes to your question. It is limited to people who have -- one of the parties to the communication have a clear connection to al Qaeda or terrorist organizations, and one of the parties is operating outside of the United States. I think that's important for people to know, because there's been some suggestions that it's spying inside the U.S. That's not the case.
Q I'll stipulate that. But it is limited to that situation, are we to presume, then, that there are in excess of tens of thousands of al Qaeda agents in this country, because it's been used that many times?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not confirming or denying those numbers. I don't think anyone has done that publicly, so I'm not going to get into a discussion of that nature. But what I will reiterate is that this is very limited and targeted, and that you have to have a clear connection to al Qaeda or a related terrorist organization. And it's the career intelligence officials at the NSA who are making these decisions. These people receive extensive training in acting consistent with what the authorization provides. And that's important for the American people to know. It's important for them to know the parameters of this is very limited in nature.
Q Is it important for them to know the scope of the threat you perceive?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people understand that we are in a different kind of war, and understand that we face a new kind of threat from an enemy that changes and adapts, and that getting into talking about some of these operational details endangers their national security, puts us at greater risk.
Intelligence is vital to winning the war on terrorism. Intelligence is vital to winning any war. And this is signals intelligence that we're talking about. It is critical that we have that information to be able to stop attacks from happening before it's too late.
Q Scott, in April of 2004, President Bush delivered remarks on the Patriot Act, and he said at that time, "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it require -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." Was the President being completely forthcoming when he made that statement?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he was talking about in the context of the Patriot Act.
Q And in terms of the American people, though, when he says "nothing has changed" --
MR. McCLELLAN: I would have to look back at the remarks there, but you're clearly talking about it in the context, as you pointed out, of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is another vital tool. That's why the Senate needs to move forward and get that reauthorized now. We cannot let that expire -- not for a single moment, because the terrorist threat is not going to expire. Those tools have helped us disrupt plots and prevent attacks and break up terrorist cells. We need those tools for our law enforcement and intelligence community. And we urge the Senate to stop the delaying tactics by the minority of senators, to stop their delaying tactics, to stop filibustering, stop blocking this legislation and get it passed.
Q So you don't see it as misleading in any way when the President says, "nothing has changed"?
MR. McCLELLAN: You're asking me to look back at something that is in relation to the Patriot Act. And it's in relation to the Patriot Act --
Q But he's talking about wiretaps --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and I'll be glad to take a look at his comments. I think you're taking them out -- I think the suggestion that you're making, I reject that suggestion. And I'll be glad to take a look at those comments.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
18,000 Wire Taps
How many terrorists do we have sleeping in cells here on the home front soil? Good question. If there are really that large a number of suspected terrorists, why are they not doing more rounding up of these rascals? If there aren't, the discrepancy is important. The answer could give us a good sense of how big a hole the President has shot in our Constitution and our Civil Liberties. Oh, and if you review the whole set of this text, you find our President has lied to us again. Do you still believe the W, Rove and Co cluster of scallywags?