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No Lip Reading Required

Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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December 22, 2005

CNN has been running an 2004 quote from the president about court orders and wiretaps. It’s pretty hard to reconcile the roiling NSA scandal with this statement. The ACLU and many others have been questioning the administration’s assurances about the Patriot Act and government surveillance for a long time. This has to be the best example yet of why we think the questions must be asked.

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.

… from a Bush speech in Buffalo in April 2004, calling on Congress to renew the expiring parts of the Patriot Act without any reform.

The White House may argue that Bush was just talking about domestic surveillance, but the NSA’s warrantless wiretap program unequivocally applies to communications from American citizens originating in the United States. Also, note Wednesday’s NYT story reporting the warrantless eavesdropping on purely domestic communications.

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