Here’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the Larry King Live show last night: (C&L has the video)
"I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president it’s my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example...."The issue with the Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program is that it violates a federal criminal law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Despite what Gonzales is implying, the Clinton administration never violated FISA and never claimed they could violate FISA. Here’s why:
1. Prior to 1995, FISA did not cover physical searches. (With Clinton’s signature, the law was expanded to cover physical searches in 1995.) The search of Aldrich Ames home occurred in 1993. It did not violate FISA.The White House joins in the smear....(more)
2. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified in 1994 that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches, before FISA required physical searches to be conducted pursuant to a warrant. Gorelick was arguing that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches in the absence of Congressional action. At no time did she suggest that, after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant, the executive branch could ignore the law, nor is there any evidence the Clinton administration failed to comply with FISA.
The fact that the Attorney General of the United States is resorting to such obvious deception shows that they have no real answers. The administration is getting desperate and grasping at straws.
Gore responds to White House 'hypocrisy' comments
Former Vice President Al Gore: "The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program.
The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.
There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.
Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.
The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.
The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program."... (more)