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President Declares Domestic Spying Program “Legal”

Press Conference of the President, January 26, 2006: “…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, discussion with the American people as to the legality of the program. There’s no doubt in my mind it is legal. And thirdly, will there be safeguards for the — to safeguard the civil liberties of the American people? There’s no doubt in my mind there are safeguards in place to make sure the program focuses on calls coming from outside the United States in, with an al Qaeda — from a — with a belief that there’s an al Qaeda person making the call to somebody here in the States, or vice versa — but not domestic calls. So as I stand here right now I can tell the American people the program is legal, it’s designed to protect civil liberties, and it’s necessary.”

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  • From WSJ free features, Transcript of Bush Interview, January 26, 2006 with The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, Christopher Cooper and John McKinnon (edited transcript): “…the FISA law was written in 1978, and we require a different response to an enemy. And what I said — here, let me just give you my management style. I talked to people like General Hayden. I said: Can we do a better of job of protecting the American people within the Constitution and guaranteeing civil rights? Those were the parameters, because I want to make sure what I do, I’ve got the legal authority to do. So you design the program and look at all options. And this is the program they brought back to me. I’m not going to describe it to you, nor should anybody else, because all that does is tell the enemy how to adjust.”
  • New York Times: Gonzales Invokes Actions of Other Presidents in Defense of U.S. Spying
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