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Kerry: White House Spying Unconstitutional, Bush Excuse `Lame’

by Pamela Leavey

Glen Johnson, AP Political Writer, reports today that “Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday that the domestic spying authorized by the White House “doesn’t uphold our Constitution,” and that President Bush offered a “lame” defense in recent public appearances.” Kerry also said the “alleged White House leak of a CIA agent’s identity was more serious than the media’s disclosure of the spying program.”

Bush said Monday that it was “a shameful act” for someone to have leaked details of the program to The New York Times, and he suggested the Justice Department is investigating the leak.

Though leaking any classified information is against the law, “there is a world of difference between what the president’s engaged in and what was leaked out of the White House,” Kerry told reporters after addressing ironworkers at a local labor hall.

The leak in the White House was an effort to destroy somebody and his family and attack them for telling the truth,” the senator said, referring to former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. Her identity as a CIA analyst was exposed in July 2003 after Wilson challenged an administration justification for the Iraqi war.

The leak that took place in this case is a leak that _ I’m not excusing it _ is to tell the truth about something that violates the rights of Americans and doesn’t uphold our Constitution,” Kerry said.

During his news conference Monday, Bush issued a forceful defense of the program he first authorized after the Sept. 11 attacks, saying Congress gave him the power to authorize the spying under a broad mandate to protect the country “by all means necessary.”

I think the president’s explanation is lame,” Kerry said. “The fact is that there is no wording whatsoever in the law that permits what he engaged in. … And the president’s claim that he has some inherent authority to do this _ against the stated intention of Congress not to _ is simply wrong.”

Bush’s senior aides have said the program was narrowly targeted at individuals with a suspected link to al-Qaida or affiliated extremist groups. They said there is often no time to use a special federal court empowered by Congress to approve domestic spying, even though that approval can be sought after spying is conducted in time-sensitive cases.

2 Responses to “Kerry: White House Spying Unconstitutional, Bush Excuse `Lame’”

  1. COURT SAYS U.S. SPY AGENCY CAN TAP OVERSEAS MESSAGES

    By DAVID BURNHAM, SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (NYT) 1051 words Published: November 7, 1982

    A Federal appeals court has ruled that the National Security Agency may lawfully intercept messages between United States citizens and people overseas, even if there is no cause to believe the Americans are foreign agents, and then provide summaries of these messages to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Because the National Security Agency is among the largest and most secretive intelligence agencies and because millions of electronic messages enter and leave the United States each day, lawyers familiar with the intelligence agency consider the decision to mark a significant increase in the legal authority of the Government to keep track of its citizens.

    Reverses 1979 Ruling

    The Oct. 21 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involves the Government’s surveillance of a Michiganborn lawyer, Abdeen Jabara, who for many years has represented Arab-American citizens and alien residents in court. Some of his clients had been investigated by the F.B.I.

    Mr. Jabara sued the F.B.I, and the National Security Agency, and in 1979 Federal District Judge Ralph M. Freeman ruled that the agency’s acquisition of several of Mr. Jabara’s overseas messages violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free of ”unreasonable searches and seizures.” Last month’s decision reverses that ruling.

    In earlier court proceedings, the F.B.I. acknowledged that it then disseminated the information to 17 other law-enforcement or intelligence agencies and three foreign governments.

    The opinion of the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals held, ”The simple fact remains that the N.S.A. lawfully acquired Jabara’s messages.”

    The court ruled further that the lawyer’s Fourth Amendment rights ”were not violated when summaries of his overseas telegraphic messages” were furnished to the investigative bureau ”irrespective of whether there was reasonable cause to believe that he was a foreign agent.”

  2. If all you can come up with is a 1982 newspaper article on one appeals court decision, it shows how weak your case is. The fact is that Bush broke the law.