Ken AshfordWiretapping & SurveillanceLeave a Comment

George W. Bush, January 26, 2006 (in response to a question regarding the legality of the "Terrorist Surveillance Program"):

The terrorist surveillance program is necessary to protect America from attack.

I asked the very questions you asked when we first got going. Let me tell you exactly how this happened.

Right after September the 11th, I said to the people, "What can we do? Can we do more?" — the people being the operators, a guy like Mike Hayden — "Can we do more to protect the people? . . . . And so he came forward with this program. It wasn’t designed in the White House. It was designed where you expect it to be designed, in the NSA.

Secondly, I said, "Before we do anything, I want to make sure it’s legal."

And so we had our lawyers look at it. And as part of the debate, the discussion with the American people as to the legality of the program, there’s no doubt in my mind it is legal.

Jack L. Goldsmith, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel in Bush’s own Justice Department, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday:

I could not find a legal basis for some aspects of the [terrorist surveillance] program. . . . It was the biggest legal mess I had ever encountered.