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The New York Times has panicked into a serious misrepresentation of the testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee by five former FISA judges. Power Line looks at the transcript of the committee hearing and discovers that reporter Eric Lichtblau, who predicated his new book on the supposed illegality of the secret NSA terrorist surveillance program, wrote dishonestly about their appearance in yesterday's hearing.
Here's what Lichtblau wrote:
In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, several former judges who served on the panel also voiced skepticism at a Senate hearing about the president's constitutional authority to order wiretapping on Americans without a court order. They also suggested that the program could imperil criminal prosecutions that grew out of the wiretaps.
Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until last year, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."
After buying the transcript and reading it for themselves, Power Line reveals what the judges really said:
Judge Kornblum: Presidential authority to conduct wireless [Sic. Presumably Judge Kornblum meant "warrantless."] surveillance in the United States I believe exists, but it is not the President's job to determine what that authority is. It is the job of the judiciary. *** The President's intelligence authorities come from three brief elements in Article II....As you know, in Article I, Section 8, Congress has enumerated powers as well as the power to legislate all enactments necessary and proper to their specific authorities, and I believe that is what the President has, similar authority to take executive action necessary and proper to carry out his enumerated responsibilities of which today we are only talking about surveillance of Americans. ***
Senator Feinstein: Now I want to clear something up. Judge Kornblum spoke about Congress's power to pass laws to allow the President to carry out domestic electronic surveillance, and we know that FISA is the exclusive means of so doing. Is such a law, that provides both the authority and the rules for carrying out that authority, are those rules then binding on the President?
Judge Kornblum: No President has ever agreed to that. ***
Senator Feinstein: What do you think as a Judge?
Judge Kornblum: I think--as a Magistrate Judge, not a District Judge, that a President would be remiss in exercising his Constitutional authority to say that, "I surrender all of my power to a statute," and, frankly, I doubt that Congress, in a statute, can take away the President's authority, not his inherent authority, but his necessary and proper authority.
Senator Feinstein: I would like to go down the line if I could. *** Judge Baker?
Judge Baker: No, I do not believe that a President would say that.
Senator Feinstein: No. I am talking about FISA, and is a President bound by the rules and regulations of FISA?
Judge Baker: If it is held constitutional and it is passed, I suppose, just like everyone else, he is under the law too. ***
Senator Feinstein: Judge?
Judge Stafford: Everyone is bound by the law, but I do not believe, with all due respect, that even an act of Congress can limit the President's power under the Necessary and Proper Clause under the Constitution. ***
Chairman Specter: I think the thrust of what you are saying is the President is bound by statute like everyone else unless it impinges on his constitutional authority, and a statute cannot take away the President's constitutional authority. Anybody disagree with that?
Chairman Specter: Everybody agrees with that.
Instead of expressing skepticism, the judges confirm that the matter is far from settled, and in fact told Congress that they don't have the jurisdiction to make the judgment. What they did tell the Judiciary members is that President Bush's arguments have a strong element of validity and probably are correct. Unfortunately for Lichtblau, that undermines the whole premise of his book -- and apparently that can't be tolerated.
UPDATE: Er, Gray Lady. I wasn't suggesting some sort of transgenderism when I first wrote "Gary Lady".Sphere It View blog reactions
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