I wonder how long this speech is going to stay on the White House website. I was directed to it by a thoughful lawyer/blogger Glenn Greenwald today
In a speech in Buffalo, NY on April 20, 2004, Bush states that “a wiretap requires a court order.” He goes on, “When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important to our fellow citizens to understand when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”
Mr. President, square that with the nation now. You are implying that constitutional law requires you — as President of the United States — to secure a court order before wiretapping.
You said it. Plain as day.
How do we know when you are telling the truth to Americans — on sacred matters dealing with the Constitution, presidential authority and its limits, and the system of checks and balances in this country?
Were you lying? Will you admit it? Or was this obfuscation, to give you the benefit of the doubt, permitted because we are in a so-called national security crisis and you are President?
Compare the Constitution and the Bible for us, Mr. President. I hate making this kind of comparison because I believe that the Constitution of this country is more sacred than the Bible, but I want to get on your turf Mr. President.
If you were to talk to parishioners about some message from Jesus Christ and then behind your book orchestrate the opposite, what would and should people think?
Or are the Constitution and the Bible there to be paid attention to when its convenient?
In my book, the Bible may be adhered to or ignored casually — but not the Constitution of the United States.
Will you be telling the truth tonight, Mr. President? How in the world do you expect Americans to know?
It’s pretty clear that the constituents of Congressmen Quinn and Reynolds as well as Governor George Pataki, up at your Buffalo speech, were lied to with you defending the Constitution in your lobbying for the authority for the Patriot Act.
Here is the full speech, and below the relevant grafs:
So the first thing I want you to think about is, when you hear Patriot Act, is that we changed the law and the bureaucratic mind-set to allow for the sharing of information. It’s vital. And others will describe what that means.
Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
But a roving wiretap means — it was primarily used for drug lords. A guy, a pretty intelligence drug lord would have a phone, and in old days they could just get a tap on that phone.
So guess what he’d do? He’d get him another phone, particularly with the advent of the cell phones. And so he’d start changing cell phones, which made it hard for our DEA types to listen, to run down these guys polluting our streets.
And that changed, the law changed on — roving wiretaps were available for chasing down drug lords. They weren’t available for chasing down terrorists, see? And that didn’t make any sense in the post-9/11 era. If we couldn’t use a tool that we’re using against mobsters on terrorists, something needed to happen.
President Bush tarnished the Constitution of the United States before the people of Buffalo on April 20, 2004.
And Senator Chuck Hagel would like to hear more from the President about this gap between what he has publicly stated and secretly done.
— Steve Clemons