White House Disputes Gore on NSA Spying
mise en ligne :23 01 2006 ( NEA say… n° 02 )
2 Groups File Suit to Close Program
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 18, 2006
The White House fired back at critics of President Bush in unusually tough
terms yesterday as a pair of civil liberties organizations went to court in
an effort to shut down the administration's domestic spying program as
On a day that evoked the presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004 -- and
perhaps that of 2008 -- Bush's chief spokesman lashed out at former vice
president Al Gore for "hypocrisy" and at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
(D-N.Y.) for "out of bounds" criticism. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) joined
the fray by accusing Bush of breaking the law.
The barrage was the latest episode in the uproar sparked by last month's
disclosure that Bush authorized warrantless surveillance of telephone calls
and e-mail between Americans and people overseas suspected of links to al
Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Bush has defended the program as a vital
tool in a fast-moving battle against elusive enemies, and he has cited the
inherent powers of the presidency in circumventing a long-established secret
court that issues warrants in intelligence cases.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights
filed separate lawsuits yesterday asserting that Bush exceeded his authority
and violated Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches and
seizures by ordering the National Security Agency's surveillance.
"The current surveillance of Americans is a chilling assertion of
presidential power that has not been seen since the days of Richard Nixon,"
said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director.
The ACLU suit named eight other individuals and groups as fellow plaintiffs,
including the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Greenpeace; the
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; writers James Bamford,
Christopher Hitchens and Tara McKelvey; and scholars Larry Diamond of
Stanford University's Hoover Institution and Barnett R. Rubin of New York
University. The ACLU said that because of their work, the plaintiffs "have a
well-founded belief that their communications are being intercepted by the
NSA" but offered no evidence.
On Monday, Gore accused Bush of "breaking the law repeatedly and
insistently," and called for a special investigation. Gore, who lost the
presidency to Bush in 2000, was seconded yesterday by Kerry, who lost in
2004. "It is a clear violation of law," Kerry said on CNN.
"Al Gore's hypocrisy knows no bounds," Bush's press secretary, Scott
McClellan, responded. "If he is going to be the voice of the Democratic
Party on national security matters, we welcome it."
McClellan dismissed yesterday's court complaints as "frivolous lawsuits"
that "do nothing to help enhance civil liberties or protect the American
The press secretary's charge of hypocrisy stems from warrantless searches
conducted in the Aldrich Ames spy case during the Clinton-Gore
administration and from comments by top Clinton aides asserting presidential
prerogative. But Bill Clinton later supported amending the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act to require warrants for foreign intelligence
searches as well as wiretaps. Gore yesterday said McClellan's charges "are
factually wrong" and that "the Clinton-Gore administration complied fully
and completely with the terms of the law."
McClellan also returned fire against Hillary Clinton, who in a speech Monday
called the Bush administration "one of the worst" in history. She also
asserted that Republicans run the House as though it were a "plantation," in
which the opposition has no opportunity to advance contrary views.
McClellan called the comments "way out of line" and suggested that Clinton's
presidential ambitions were behind them.
Asked about Gore and Clinton attacking the same day, McClellan said, "We
know one tends to like or enjoy grabbing headlines. The other one sounds
like that the political season may be starting early."
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