WASHINGTON, D.C.–While President Bush denies any wrongdoing in the National Security Agency domestic wiretap and data-mining program, saying yesterday that it was perfectly legal, actions by top officials in his own administration suggest Bush and his inner circle of confidants did indeed know the spying was wrong.
Bush said yesterday in defense of the eavesdropping, “This program has been reviewed, constantly reviewed, by people throughout my administration. And it still is reviewed. Not only has it been reviewed by Justice Department officials, it’s been reviewed by members of the United States Congress,” he said. “It’s a vital, necessary program.”
But the New York Times revealed Sunday that when Bush couldn’t get top level clearance for the wiretaps from deputy attorney general James Comey, two aides–Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, and Alberto Gonzalez, then White House counsel and now attorney general–went to George Washington University Hospital here, in a circuitous effort to get Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was recovering from gallbladder surgery, to sign off on it
Moreover, Bush, in Buffalo in 2004, was asked about a remark he made at an appearance in support of the Patriot Act, the president said, “Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap,” Bush said. “A wiretap requires a court order.” He added: “Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”