Q In the NSA hearing this morning, Specter suggested that the legality of the program be submitted to a special court set up through the FISA Act. And Gonzales initially didn't say much about it, but then he didn't exactly have any objection to that idea. Is that something the White House is considering? Would the White House agree to that?Uh, No Scott - Briefing members of congress is not the same thing as Congressional oversight. Oh, and I thought you weren't going to get into any analysis of the AG's testimony.
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, I don't want to get into doing on-the-spot analysis of the Attorney General's testimony today. This is ongoing at this point, so I'm not going to do a play-by-play commentary on it. Secondly, though, the terrorist surveillance program is a vital program. It is targeted and limited. Its one purpose is aimed at detecting and preventing attacks. And as you've heard from General Hayden and Director Mueller and Director Negroponte, it has been a useful and successful program.
And the Attorney General today is explaining the legal justification behind this program. We do remain a nation at war and surveillance of the enemy is critical to waging and winning war.
Now, with that said, in terms of the specific issue that you bring up, I'm not going to get into ruling things in or ruling the things out from this podium. This is something that we have briefed members of Congress on over the course of the last several years. We will continue to brief members of Congress about this vital program. It is critical to protecting the American people. It is one tool in our tool box that we have available to us to win the war on terrorism and to disrupt plots here at home and prevent attacks.
Q Is it safe to say then that the White House would entertain what Specter said?Of course the President won't support it, because he doesn't believe he broke the law. It's just like saying "we didn't ask Harriet Meyers about her position (or Alito) on abortion." They don't ask because they already know and there is no need.
MRMcCLELLAN: No, I think it's safe to say exactly what I just said about it.
Q Since the President has said that he strongly believes he's acting within his authority, wouldn't a review be welcomed, so it would give greater assurance to the American public that he is doing that? Would the President support that idea?
MRMcCLELLAN: Well, again, I haven't looked at everything that the Attorney General has said today. He did respond to that very question earlier today. I think I've expressed our views here from this podium. And keeping members informed about this vital program is important. That's why the President has done it from the very beginning. This is a limited program in nature. We will continue to work with Congress as we move forward.Okay, here againScotty attempts to speak for all Americans when he doesn't. Don't talk for me Scott! You don't have a clue what I want. You are paid to speak for the W, Rove and Co. Don't pretend to know what the American people want or need.
But I think the American people understand the importance of the President doing everything he can within his power to prevent attacks from happening. He has not only the authority to do this, but he has the responsibility to do this. The 9/11 Commission talked about communications of al Qaeda -- email communications, Internet communications and cell phone communications from within the United States to abroad. And that's what we're talking about here, detecting and preventing attacks, and focusing on al Qaeda or al Qaeda-affiliated communications.
Q But the President wouldn't see a benefit in further clarification?
MRMcCLELLAN: Well, I think I already answered that question. I said I'm not going to get into ruling things in or out from this podium. We will continue to work with Congress as we move forward, and as we have done in the past.
I am sure I am not the only one, but most assuredly, I do care how many terrorists you catch, but I don't want you to sacrifice the Fourth Amendment to do it. By the way, how many terrorist has this illegal program produced - locked up, jailed, killed, or otherwise spindled or mutilated? You won't say? Why not? I love this next question!
Q Does the President think he should obey the law? He put his hand on the Bible twice to uphold the Constitution. Wiretapping is not legal under the circumstances without a warrant.By the way, you should not buy the "others have done it so we can too" argument. Most of those other presidents were not operating under FISA, which was established for that very reason - to prevent the abuse of power and authority. So, right there, we know that they are doing it - wiretapping with out a warrant. The legal wrangling aside, all we need is one Patriot to stand up and sue the government for violation of their rights - now, if we can only get our hands on the double-top-secret files that would prove that they didn't wire tap null on their own soil - ops, but that would require subpoena.
MRMcCLELLAN: Well, I guess you didn't pay attention to the Attorney General's hearing earlier today, because he walked through very clearly the rationale behind this program. And, Helen, I think you have to ask are we a nation at war --
Q There is no rationale to disobey the law.
MRMcCLELLAN: Well, he's not -- are we a nation at war?
Q That's not the question.
MRMcCLELLAN: No, that is the issue here.
Q No, the question is, the point is there are means for him to go to war, get a warrant to spy on people.
MRMcCLELLAN: Enemy surveillance is critical to waging and winning war. It's one of the traditional tools of war.
Q Nobody says he doesn't have running room to --
MRMcCLELLAN: And the Attorney General outlined very clearly today how previous administrations have used the same authority and cited the same --
Q That doesn't make it legal.
MRMcCLELLAN: -- and cited the very same authority.
Q If they broke the law, that's too bad. You know what happened to Nixon when he broke the law.
MRMcCLELLAN: And we're going to continue doing everything we can within our power to protect the American people. This is a very different circumstance, and you know that.
Q No, I don't.
The morass that Scotty is leading the American people into gets deeper, thicker and is stickier than molasses on a cold winter day. Click over to the actual text and review it for yourself if you dare. I can't post any more today as my eyes are blurry.
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