Remember the fundamental question here is that if the telecommunications companies are not doing anything illegal, why would they need immunity?
Q You can get the Congress to protect telecom companies from lawsuits, but then there's no recourse for Americans who feel that they've been caught up in this. I know it's not intended to spy on Americans, but in the collection process, information about everybody gets swept up and then it gets sorted. So if Americans don't have any recourse, are you just telling them, when it comes to their privacy, to suck it up?Really, if what the Bush Administration is doing is completely on the up-and-up, legal, legitimate, and scrutinized by the Congress, what's the worry? What if you or I get sued by some nut ball attorney? Would we get immunity because what they are doing is unfair? Hell no.
THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't put it that way, if I were you, in public. Well, you've been long been long enough to -- anyway, yes, I -- look, there's -- people who analyze the program fully understand that America's civil liberties are well protected. There is a constant check to make sure that our civil liberties of our citizens aren't -- you know, are treated with respect. And that's what I want, and that's what most -- all Americans want.
Now let me talk about the phone companies. You cannot expect phone companies to participate if they feel like they're going to be sued. I mean, it is -- these people are responsible for shareholders; they're private companies. The government said to those who have alleged to have helped us that it is in our national interests and it's legal. It's in our national interests because we want to know who's calling who from overseas into America. We need to know in order to protect the people.
It was legal. And now, all of a sudden, plaintiffs attorneys, class-action plaintiffs attorneys, you know -- I don't want to try to get inside their head; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train -- are trying to sue these companies. First, it's unfair. It is patently unfair. And secondly, these lawsuits create doubts amongst those who will -- whose help we need.
I guess you could be relaxed about all this if you didn't think there was a true threat to the country. I know there's a threat to the country. And the American people expect our Congress to give the professionals the tools they need to listen to foreigners who may be calling into the United States with information that could cause us great harm. So, on the one hand, the civil liberties of our citizens are guaranteed by a lot of checks in the system, scrutinized by the United States Congress.
And secondly, I cannot emphasize to you how important it is that the Congress solve this problem. The Senate has solved the problem. And people say, would you ever compromise on the issue? The Senate bill is a compromise. And there's enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill. It's a bipartisan bill. And the House leaders need to put it on the floor, let the will of the House work. In my judgment, it happens to be the will of the people, to give the professionals the tools they need to protect the country.
If the President's wiretap program is indeed a legal and legit operation, the Telecoms would have nothing to fear and the lawsuits would be dismissed. Moreover, if, just possibly, if it might be the case that the "government" has violated our rights, don't you think those who have done so should be held accountable?
Law suits are not patently unfair, are they? They are designed to bring people doing illegal things to justice. If you believe the President, and feel that they have not done anything illegal, will the plaintiffs and their fancy lawyers win? Not a chance. You have got to know that Telecoms have extremely good and highly paid lawyers to protect themselves from such lawsuits. That such lawsuits are unfair is outright foolish.
So, I ask the question again, do the telecoms really need such protection, or is this just another case where George Bush is advocating another subtraction of the ordinary citizens' rights and denying her or him the proper channels to get recourse to illegal behavior? It seems that this is clearly another case where George Bush is advocating that the meek get squashed by the mighty Goliath that is the W, Rove and Co. by killing our David before he can sling his stone.