Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rice Defends Domestic Eavesdropping; President Reasserts NSA Powers

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, speaking Sunday morning on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, told host Tim Russert that, "We had a problem in this country. We had intelligence agencies spying on people outside this country, and law enforcement working within this country. And they never communicated with each other.

"So now, we have spies spying on people within this country, and law enforcement working outside the country, and a secret tunnel that goes from inside this country to outside this country. So now, anyone inside this country or outside this country who does anything that may seem harmless, like, eat a potato, or dangerous, like, buy explosives, will have that information shared with others inside the tunnel, coming from inside this country or outside, to make Americans as safe as they can be within the country, unless they are Americans buying potatoes or explosives, in which case they may be prosecuted as they should be, within or without this country."

Hours later, on Sunday evening, President Bush asked Americans to "keep the faith" "because we're already winning in Iraq." The President added, "I know a lot of folks might not support my policies right now. But I want to ask a favor of you: I want you to support my policies right now. Because we are, in fact, winning the struggle in Iraq. And here's proof. This is a graph showing that, as time goes on, we are winning in Iraq. This axis is time. This other axis is winningness. And you can see that, on into the future, our winning increases.

"Furthermore, I once again ask Congress to renew the Patriot Act. I know we're having some problems in the Senate, but I must insist that we pass this crucial legislation. It allows for surveillance to be conducted through secretly issued wiretap warrants from the courts. Unless this law is passed, we will be forced to continue to do what we're already doing-- spying on people without warrants. Of course, once I've signed the renewed Patriot Act into law, we will continue to spy on Americans without warrants, but sometimes we might go ahead and get a warrant, and for those times that we want to get warrants before eavesdropping on people, we will be forced to do it without warrants all of the time, rather than just some of the time.

"It would be illegal and inappropriate for the federal government to come into your home and start eavesdropping on your day-to-day life. Because America is a land of freedom and individual rights. I believe that government is not the answer. The less government the better. That's what's great about America-- our individuals. But in order to preserve this freedom, we need to remember that 9/11 happened. And when such an event happens, it's important to be able to eavesdrop without warrants.

"Some people say, 'Well gee, Mr. President, when 9/11 happened, there was already information coming in stating that people of Middle Eastern descent were learning how to fly planes, but not how to take off and land, and a memo saying that terrorists were planning to fly planes into buildings. How will eavesdropping without warrants help?'

"That's a good comment, and I appreciate it. But to keep America free to ask questions like that one, we need both a law authorizing warrants to eavesdrop on people, and the power to eavesdrop on people without warrants. Simple as that.

"This is not a time, as some have suggested, to hide in the basement, forget about defending America and eat French food. This is a time for keeping our nation secure. And for eavesdropping on it."


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