Unfortunately, when there are secret orders and initiatives dished out by W like white on rice, we will never know what is really going on or how far our civil liberties have been eroded or corroded by the W, Rove and Co. So, if there can be secret laws and secret orders, who thinks it wasn't just a great political move to sign off on the McCain anti-torture amendments? Who cares if there's a law, if they want to do it they can, and I am certain, they will. I don't trust 'em, not one iota:
Q Scott, Senator Specter says that the Judiciary Committee is going to make it a high priority to look into this report that the President authorized the NSA to eavesdrop without warrant on people in the United States. And he says that there is no doubt that this is inappropriate. How do you respond to his characterization of what happened?Oh, on another note, I appreciate that Mr. McClellan has every right to speak for the President and the W, Rove and Co on the whole for that mattter. Hell, he gets buckets of taxpayer dollars in remuneration to do just that. But, I really do get pissed off when he suggests he can speak for the whole of the American People. Don't you?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have a responsibility to work with Congress to do all we can, within the law, to protect the American people. And that means preventing attacks and saving lives. And the President made a commitment that he would do everything within his power and within the law to prevent attacks and save lives. He renewed that commitment more than ever after September 11th. He also made a commitment that we would remain firmly committed to protecting the civil liberties of Americans and upholding our Constitution. He is doing both.
We are continuing to do all we can to save lives. That is the President's number one priority. We are sitting here talking about waging the war on terrorism. And the President is going to continue to act to protect the American people, but he'll do so within our laws. And in terms of these issues, there is congressional oversight of intelligence activities, and we will continue to work with members of Congress on those matters.
Q Will the Judiciary Committee be part of that oversight, or is that just the Intelligence Committees?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd just say we would continue to work with members of Congress on these matters. This is about protecting the American people.
Q Will you cooperate with Senator Specter as the Judiciary Committee looks into this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure there's any request that's been made of us at this point.
Q Is it your position that legal authority is required --
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry should turn off his phone.
Q -- for any surveillance of U.S. citizens by the NSA?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, I'm aware of the reports that were in the papers this morning.
Q I hope so.
MR. McCLELLAN: This relates to intelligence activities and ongoing intelligence operations that are aimed at saving lives. And there's a reason why we don't get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities, because it could compromise our efforts to prevent attacks from happening. We are doing all we can to disrupt plots and prevent attacks from happening. And it could telegraph to the enemy what we are doing. The enemy wants to know exactly what we are doing to go after them and prevent attacks from happening. And we don't want to do anything to compromise sources and methods.
Q Right, but all I asked you was whether it's your position that it always requires a court order for surveillance of U.S. citizens.
MR. McCLELLAN: What it's getting into -- again, let me reiterate. The President is firmly committed to upholding our Constitution and protecting people's civil liberties. That is something he has always kept in mind as we have moved forward from the attacks of September 11th, to do everything within our power to prevent attacks from happening. It's very important to him. We are meeting both those priorities. Those are two important priorities.
Now in terms of talking about the National Security Agency or matters like that, that would be getting into talking about ongoing intelligence activities. And they're classified for a reason, because they go to the issue of sources and methods and protecting the American people. And because they're classified, I'm not able to get into discussing those issues from this podium.
Q Let me follow with one other question. Is it your position that the congressional authorization for war against al Qaeda in 2001 allows the President to take some steps to collect intelligence?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you why I'm not going to get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities.
Q You mean you cannot say whether it's lawful to spy on Americans or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: We have a Constitution and we have laws.
Q We're not asking for any details. We're asking you --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I'm making a broad statement to let you know that we --
Q It is broad. Is it legal to spy on Americans?
MR. McCLELLAN: We have a Constitution and we have laws in place, and we follow those --
Q You say you are abiding by the law?
MR. McCLELLAN: Absolutely. And there's congressional oversight of intelligence activities, there's other oversight of intelligence activities.
Q Why do you have to have secret orders then?
MR. McCLELLAN: Does anybody have a question? Go ahead.
Q And how many secret orders have been issued by this President?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the American people appreciate what we do to work within the law to prevent attacks from happening. The Patriot Act is being debated right now.
Q It's never been within the law to spy on Americans.
MR. McCLELLAN: The Patriot Act is something that members of the Senate are debating right now. The House has already acted on it. And the House, in a strong bipartisan fashion, renewed these vital tools for our law enforcement intelligence officers to protect the American people. This law has helped prevent attacks from happening by breaking up terrorist cells in parts of the United States.
And while the Senate didn't pass the vote that they were looking to do right now, their -- the leadership is committed to moving forward on this. They're still in -- there's some more time this year. We urge them to get this done now and pass that legislation. The President has made it very clear that he is not interested in signing any short-term renewal. The terrorist threats will not expire at the end of this year. They won't expire in three months. We need to move forward and pass this critical legislation.
Carl, do you have something?