WSJ: “Thank you for wiretapping”

Posted by: ST on December 20, 2005 at 8:39 am

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has a great piece up today on explaining why the President’s critics are flat out wrong on the ‘eavesdropping’ scandal:

The allegation of Presidential law-breaking rests solely on the fact that Mr. Bush authorized wiretaps without first getting the approval of the court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. But no Administration then or since has ever conceded that that Act trumped a President’s power to make exceptions to FISA if national security required it. FISA established a process by which certain wiretaps in the context of the Cold War could be approved, not a limit on what wiretaps could ever be allowed.

The courts have been explicit on this point, most recently in In Re: Sealed Case, the 2002 opinion by the special panel of appellate judges established to hear FISA appeals. In its per curiam opinion, the court noted that in a previous FISA case (U.S. v. Truong), a federal “court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue [our emphasis], held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information.” And further that “we take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”

On Sunday Mr. Graham opined that “I don’t know of any legal basis to go around” FISA–which suggests that next time he should do his homework before he implies on national TV that a President is acting like a dictator. (Mr. Graham made his admission of ignorance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” where he was representing the Republican point of view. Democrat Joe Biden was certain that laws had been broken, while the two journalists asking questions clearly had no idea what they were talking about. So much for enlightening television.)

The mere Constitution aside, the evidence is also abundant that the Administration was scrupulous in limiting the FISA exceptions. They applied only to calls involving al Qaeda suspects or those with terrorist ties. Far from being “secret,” key Members of Congress were informed about them at least 12 times, President Bush said yesterday. The two district court judges who have presided over the FISA court since 9/11 also knew about them.

Inside the executive branch, the process allowing the wiretaps was routinely reviewed by Justice Department lawyers, by the Attorney General personally, and with the President himself reauthorizing the process every 45 days. In short, the implication that this is some LBJ-J. Edgar Hoover operation designed to skirt the law to spy on domestic political enemies is nothing less than a political smear.

Read the whole thing, and also check out the very lengthy blogger reax link roundup over at Michelle Malkin’s , especially this link to a post by the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr, who provides a legal analysis well worth reading.

By the way, the President’s ratings are up yet again.

More: Kevin Aylward at Wizbang writes:

The wisdom of a “black” operations like this (which dates back to the 1940’s) is up for debate, but trying to spin it as an invention of the Bush administration, or their use of it as “unprecedented” doesn’t jibe with history.

Yep. It smacks of political opportunism at its worst – just as this is.

Related Toldjah So posts:

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12 Responses to “WSJ: “Thank you for wiretapping””


  1. andrew says:

    “Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr, who provides a legal analysis well worth reading.”

    Orrin Kerr is a great law prof. I like how he contradicts the hacks at the WSJ: FISA wasn’t followed, the AUMF doesn’t work, and the article II arguments have no support.

  2. steve says:

    bush should be impeached first and then charged with war crimes. Peace

  3. PCD says:

    steve, you should see a shrink.

  4. Baklava says:

    THANK YOU ST for this WSJ peice. I missed it.

    Thank you Bush for standing up to the heat.

    The dominant media are proving to be lazy again. Laziness is easier if you have a pattern of inaccurate accusations. Looking up history and the facts is hard work.

  5. Baklava says:

    Here’s another piece.

    from William Kristol

  6. steve says:

    Kristol and the WSJ, are two of the loudest Zionist voices in America today. Israel must get it’s house in order. Peace

  7. Kevin says:

    Yeah! This whole wiretapping thing is really about Israel! And I would have totally missed the connection if it weren’t for steve!

  8. PCD says:


    Please take your hate of Israel elsewhere. It add nothing to anything except the negative impression of you.

  9. Bachbone says:

    Steve’s referral to “[Bill] Kristol” and “Zionist” and “Israel” in his latest post (see above) seems to clarify his thinking a bit.

    At least once before in posts on this blog, Steve has used the term, “Neocon Republicans.”

    When used, “neocon” usually refers to former Democrats who grew disillusioned with that party and moved to the Republican side. Thus, “NeoCon Republican” is rather redundant unless one means to define a subset of “Republicans.”

    However, anyone who reads a smattering of the left’s writings knows that “Zionist” and “NeoCon” are also code words for “Jew.” Paul Wolfowitz, Wm. Kristol and Richard Perle are a few examples of neocons who are also Jews. Many posts on them are thinly-veiled anti-semitic attacks.

    I’m confused, Steve. What subset(s) of Republicans do you include when using the term “neocon?” Is it wrong, in your view, for “Zionists,” who are, incidentally, American citizens, to articulate political views, hold public office or otherwise try to influence America’s course? What must Israel do to, as you wrote, “…get its house in order”? It would help me (and others here, I’m betting) to comprehend some of your posts if you would answer those questions.

  10. like_lost_sheep says:

    “Bush’s pre-Christmas rebound was fueled largely by a sharp increase in support among his core supporters. In the past month, the proportion of Republicans approving of the president’s performance rose 9 percentage points, to 87 percent.”

  11. ROTFL – like anyone believed his support among Democrats increased! :))

  12. Baklava says:

    Makes sense since he is listening to our “illegal” immigrant concerns.

    Do Democrats have “illegal” immigrant concerns like_lost_sheep?