Monday, January 02, 2006

The President Defends the NSA

President Bush gave a live press conference today from a hospital where soldiers wounded in Iraq are receiving treatment. John Hinderaker points us to the important parts of what the president had to say:
[President Bush] 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.

As John notes, if the program is as the President described it, and the interceptions are carried out overseas, then it is outside the scope of FISA. If this is the case, then the legality of the NSA's surveillance programs must be unquestioned.

This bit of infomation could prove to be very helpful to the administration, but even if it turns out that FISA's scope does indeed reach the NSA, the informed observer will conclude that the agency's programs are indeed legal when all the evidence is considered.

John also has a good bit of insight about the relevance of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, and whether or not the 1952 case offers any precedent for the NSA's surveillance programs.