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Friday, December 23, 2005

Daschle on Domestic Spying

Posted by on December 23 at 10:25 AM

Bush and Cheney have been arguing that the president’s authority to order warrantless wiretaps of American citizens comes not just from the Constitution, but also from legislation passed by Congress just after Sept. 11, 2001. That legislation authorized “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed or aided” in the Sept. 11 attacksóbut the administration now reads the legislation as authorizing domestic spying, too.

Tom Daschle, who was Senate majority leader when the law in question was passed, says definitively today in a Washington Post Op-Ed that legalizing warrantless wiretapping inside the U.S. was not an intent of the of the law. (Duh.)

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel’s office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.