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The transcript of the President’s radio address
today Saturday (emphasis mine):
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
President, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no
greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our
way of life. On September the 11th, 2001, our freedom and way of life
came under attack by brutal enemies who killed nearly 3,000 innocent
Americans. We're fighting these enemies across the world. Yet in this first war of the 21st century, one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front. And since September the 11th, we've been on the offensive against the terrorists plotting within our borders.
of the first actions we took to protect America after our nation was
attacked was to ask Congress to pass the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act
tore down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and
intelligence authorities from sharing vital information about terrorist
threats. And the Patriot Act allowed federal investigators to pursue
terrorists with tools they already used against other criminals.
Congress passed this law with a large, bipartisan majority, including a
vote of 98-1 in the United States Senate.
then, America’s law enforcement personnel have used this critical law
to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters, and to break up
terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and
Ohio. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to
do: it has protected American liberty and saved American lives.
key provisions of this law are set to expire in two weeks. The
terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks. The
terrorists want to attack America again, and inflict even greater
damage than they did on September the 11th. Congress has a
responsibility to ensure that law enforcement and intelligence
officials have the tools they need to protect the American people.
House of Representatives passed reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Yet
a minority of senators filibustered to block the renewal of the Patriot
Act when it came up for a vote yesterday. That decision is
irresponsible, and it endangers the lives of our citizens. The senators
who are filibustering must stop their delaying tactics, and the Senate
must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act. In the war on terror, we
cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment.
fight the war on terror, I am using authority vested in me by Congress,
including the Joint Authorization for Use of Military Force, which
passed overwhelmingly in the first week after September the 11th. I'm
also using constitutional authority vested in me as Commander-in-Chief.
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I
authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and
the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of
people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist
organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government
must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist
This is a highly
classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its
purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United
States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret
program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided
to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned
information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of
this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at
risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies,
and endangers our country.
As the 9/11 Commission
pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were
communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th
attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to
uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad.
Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf
al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the
United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we
didn't know they were here, until it was too late.
authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the
11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with
my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The
activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like
these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the
activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and
prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.
The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days.
Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist
threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of
catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous
activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes
approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney
General and the Counsel to the President. I
have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September
the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces
a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.
NSA’s activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by
the Justice Department and NSA’s top legal officials, including NSA’s
general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it.
Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive
training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter
and intent of the authorization. This authorization is a vital tool in
our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American
lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under
our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties.
And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the
President of the United States.
Two stories were top of the news yesterday: the Senate filibustering the Patriot Act, and the New York Times story that the President authorized secret taps on international calls of persons with suspected ties to al Qaeda. The President addressed both issues today.
The truth is, the Patriot Act
has not been used in connection with a single violation of someone’s
Constitutional civil liberties since its inception. Not one. If it is
the terror to the Bill of Rights these filibustering Senators claim it
is, then where is the proof? The ACLU stands ever-ready to sue; where
is the evidence, where are the charges?
Time to call our
Senators, and tell them to get serious about national security in the
middle of a war, and get over the “doesn’t play well with others”
kindergarten syndrome they seem to have about this President. The
Senate is supposed to be for statesmen, let alone grown-ups.
And it seems the New York Times blasted classified knowledge all over its front pages while the nation is at war and we have soldiers in harm’s way, in order to influence the Senate vote. That used to be called sedition, and it used to be illegal in war time. That’s bad enough, but there’s more: it seems they timed the story to coincide with the release of a book by the very same reporter who “broke” Friday’s news.
Has the New York Times given enough aid and comfort to the enemy yet?
Update: Why this matters.
12/18 Update: replied to comments, and added the sentence about sedition, second-to-last paragraph.
12/19 Update: Is the New York Times as aghast at the Clinton administration’s NSA unwarranted surveillance? I thought not.
12/20 Update: It turns out the NSA surveillance did indeed undergo judicial review. NRO discusses why Bush approved the wiretaps, and also weighs in on the Clinton adminstration’s use of unwarranted wiretaps.
12/21 Update: Okay, now this is funny, and so is this.
12/21 Update: Oh boy. More on the Left’s civil rights hypocrisy.
12/21 Update: NRO’s editorial on the filibustering of the Patriot Act, and the NSA wiretap kerfuffle: September 10 America.
12/21 Update: The legal experts over at Powerline post the exchange they had with the New York Times about the wiretap story. The wiretaps are legal and have been under judicial review, and the New York Times
knew they were legal and under judicial review, but the paper of
(broken) record breathlessly reported the story as if the taps were
illegal. Very interesting exchange. I am waiting for the comments on
how bothersome it is that the New York Times publishes misleading information as fact in order to sell books.
12/21 Update: Ann Coulter on the wiretap kerfuffle. Warning: do not drink while reading.
12/22 Update: Senate passes 6-month Patriot Act extension.