Gonzales continues defense of Bush's domestic spying program
Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 9:30 p.m.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales offered additional defenses of President Bush's domestic spying program on Tuesday, as the administration tried to redefine the warrantless surveillance in a way that undermines critics.
Speaking to students at Georgetown University law school, Gonzales said a 15-day grace period allowing warrantless eavesdropping under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act demonstrates that Congress knew such surveillance "would be essential in wartime." Gonzales was supplying legal arguments to the president's comments Monday that the effort should be called a "terrorist surveillance program."
Confronting Gonzales during his nearly half-hour speech were more than a dozen young people in the audience who turned their backs to him and held up for a banner for television cameras. The banner, loosely based on a Benjamin Franklin quote, read: "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."
Before his appearance at Georgetown, Gonzales said in a television interview that some congressional leaders told the administration in 2004 that it would not be possible to write legislation regarding the warrantless surveillance effort without compromising its effectiveness.
"We did go to certain members of the congressional leadership a year and a half ago," Gonzales said on CBS's "The Early Show."
During his remarks at Georgetown, the attorney general also said the legal standard the administration uses in deciding whether to carry out surveillance on people with suspected al-Qaeda ties is equivalent to the standard required for complying with the Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches and seizures.
The reasonable basis standard, said Gonzales, "is essentially the same as the traditional Fourth Amendment probable cause standard."
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