Bush Defends NSA Program

President Bush is giving a live press conference from a hospital where he is visiting servicemen who were wounded in Iraq. Nearly all of the questions related to the NSA surveillance program. Bush did a great job of both defining and defending the program. He said that the program consists of tracking phone calls made from al Qaeda members overseas into the U.S. If that is correct, then the media’s frequent references to “domestic spying” are incorrect. When asked what Bush has to say to those who are concerned about their civil liberties, he responded along the lines of, “If al Qaeda is calling you, we want to know why. I think that’s reasonable.”
The President also referred repeatedly to the limited nature of the program and the fact that its legality has repeatedly been reviewed. One reporter referred to an occasion on which President Bush had said that the administration is still getting warrants for surveillance, and nothing has changed. The reporter asked whether Bush had misled the public on that occasion. Bush replied that he was referring to roving wiretaps under the Patriot Act.
UPDATE: If the program is as the President described it, and the interceptions are carried out overseas, then it is outside the scope of FISA. See the definition of “electronic surveillance” to which that statute applies, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1801(f):



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