Friday, February 10, 2006
AP: Bush in secret meeting is on the defensive about warrantless wiretaps
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer -- Friday, 25 minutes ago
CAMBRIDGE, Md. -, right, defended his warrantless eavesdropping program Friday, saying during what he thought were private remarks that he concluded that spying on Americans was necessary to fill a gap in the United States' security.
"I wake up every morning thinking about a future attack, and therefore, a lot of my thinking, and a lot of the decisions I make are based upon the attack that hurt us," Bush told the House Republican Caucus, which was in retreat at a luxury resort along the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
The president's comments on the NSA eavesdropping came after six minutes of remarks intended for public consumption. In them, Bush stroked lawmakers with thanks and gave a gentle push for his 2006 priorities in a scaled-back version of last month's State of the Union address.
Reporters then were ushered out "I support the free press, let's just get them out of the room," Bush said so the president could speak privately to his fellow Republicans.
"I want to share some thoughts with you before I answer your questions," said Bush, unaware that microphones were still on and were allowing those back in the White House press room to eavesdrop on his eavesdropping defense. "First of all, I expect this conversation we're about to have to stay in the room. I know that's impossible in Washington."
That was not to be and it was telling that the president chose the controversial NSA program as the first topic to raise out of reporters' earshot. Even so, there was no substantive difference between those statements and the series of public speeches he has given recently on the program.
The eavesdropping program has come under fire from Republicans as well as Democrats. They argue that Bush already has the authority to monitor such communications through existing law that requires a warrant from a secret court set up to act quickly, or even after the fact. Bush has argued that the system isn't nimble enough.
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