from Talking Points a publication of the American Progress Action Fund
January 23 , 2006
Karl Rove and the White House are trying to create partisan divisions where none exist. Instead of making excuses for why they haven’t captured Osama bin Laden, they should focus on doing it. That’s what the American people expect, and they expect their President will do it within the boundaries of the law.
- Wiretapping can be an important tool in fighting terrorists and President Bush has the full authority under existing law to do so. As the New York Times noted, "government officials are able to get an emergency warrant from the secret court within hours, sometimes minutes, if they can show an imminent threat." More importantly, Section 1805 of the FISA Act states that the government can begin a wiretap as soon as it determines a need and can wait up to 72 hours before obtaining a warrant.
- The White House is trying to falsely portray the controversy as a partisan battle. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said, “…Senate Democrats continue to engage in misleading and outlandish charges about this vital tool….” The truth is, some of the harshest criticism of the program has come from leading Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA), who said, “There is no doubt that this is inappropriate.” Also sending up criticism are Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ).
- In its rush to defend itself, the administration is contradicting itself on the role Congress played. The Bush administration has said that Congress granted it authority to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance when Congress voted to give the President authority to use force against al Qaeda following 9/11 (Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) disagrees, saying, "It didn’t in my vote"). But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claimed that the administration didn’t go to Congress for the authority because it believed Congress would have rejected it.