… Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said he was “inclined to believe” that censure by Congress is appropriate for Bush. “We know the president broke the law,” Leahy said. “Now we need to know why.” … Leahy and Feingold, of Wisconsin, were the only Democrats to speak, whereas five Republicans defended Bush. The Constitution authorizes a president to take necessary steps — including warrantless wiretaps — to protect the country from would-be attackers, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“I can only hope that this constitutionally suspect and, I believe, inflammatory attempt to punish the president for leading this war on terror will not weaken his ability to do so,” he (Hatch) said. … Only two other Senate Democrats — Barbara Boxer of California and Tom Harkin of Iowa — have fully endorsed it, and Republicans vow to crush it if it reaches the Senate floor. But they agreed to let Feingold invite two witnesses to the hearing, and he chose Republican lawyer Bruce Fein and John Dean, White House counsel to Nixon, whose last Senate testimony was before the Watergate committee in June 1973. Dean, 67, served time in a minimum-security facility for obstructing justice in the Watergate investigation. Since then, he has written books and drifted left politically. Dean said he has “more expertise than anyone might wish” on how “presidents can get themselves on the wrong side of the law.” He told Hatch there is “lots of evidence” that Bush violated the FISA law.“I don’t think you have any,” Hatch retorted.
Hatch, you’re fired. Bush broke the law and it doesn’t matter what you think about it.
TALKING POINT: Bush’s secret, warrantless spying on Americans is constitutional and legal.
FACT: False, false and false. Indeed, the nonpartisan and highly regarded Congressional Research Service (CRS) has stated politely that the legal justifications offered by the Bush administration to conduct illegal wiretapping of American citizens and permanent residents do not really hold water (more on this in Appendix 1). CRS has also weighed in to point out that the Bush administration also likely violated the National Security Act (see Appendix 2). Moreover, leading constitutional law experts (and former Government officials) agree that Bush’s actions were illegal (also see here and here). NSA Director Michael Hayden also committed an illegal act in violating the Fraud and False Statements Statute. Not to mention, it appears that some form of warrantless spying (different from the main NSA spying program) was started in 2001 even without Bush’s Executive Order and apparently even before 9/11 (the latter would make it even more obvious that the fake justification that such spying could have prevented 9/11, is, um, fake.) [Incidentally, the Pentagon has also violated the law with its illegal domestic spying program.] – MORE HERE.