Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ABC News: Was Bush Authorized to Spy on American Citizens?

ABC News: Was Bush Authorized to Spy on American Citizens?: "Speed Necessary?

The president said he needed the power to eavesdrop without a court order to streamline the process of wiretapping suspected terrorists.

'We've got to be fast on our feet, quick to detect and prevent,' Bush said.

But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows investigators to wiretap before getting a warrant, as long as they request permission from a special intelligence court within 72 hours.

'Doesn't hold water,' said Saltzburg. 'As long as you can act in emergencies before you get a court order, then speed is irrelevant here.'

The secret court has overwhelmingly done the bidding of recent administrations. Since 1979, the Justice Department has gone before the secret court 18,742 times and has only been turned down in four instances.

But for the Bush administration, court approval, at times, was not fast enough.

ABC News' Pierre Thomas filed this report for 'World News Tonight.'"