Debunking Bush administration myths
Top Ten Myths About the Illegal NSA Spying Program
MYTH: This is merely a "terrorist surveillance program."
REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist, both
the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize
eavesdropping. This illegal program, however, allows electronic
monitoring without any showing to a court that the person being
spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.
MYTH: The program is legal.
REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will chill free speech.
MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows
REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan doesn't
mention wiretaps and doesn't apply domestically, but FISA does--it
requires a court order.
MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the
military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration's claim
of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an
unacceptable effort to "condense power into a single branch of
government," contrary to the Constitution's checks and balances.
MYTH: The president has the power to say what the law is.
REALITY: The courts have this power under our system of government,
and no person is above the law, not even the president, or the rule
of law means nothing.
MYTH: These warrantless wiretaps could never happen to you.
REALITY: Without court oversight, there is no way to ensure innocent
people's everyday communications are not monitored or catalogued by
the NSA or other agencies.
MYTH: This illegal program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
REALITY: This is utter manipulation. Before 9/11, the federal
government had gathered intelligence, without illegal NSA spying,
about the looming attacks and at least two of the terrorists who
perpetrated them, but failed to act.
MYTH: This illegal program has saved thousands of lives.
REALITY: Because the program is secret the administration can assert
anything it wants and then claim the need for secrecy excuses its
failure to document these claims, let alone reveal all the times the
program distracted intelligence agents with dead ends that wasted
resources and trampled individual rights.
MYTH: FISA takes too long.
REALITY: FISA allows wiretaps to begin immediately in emergencies,
with three days afterward to go to court. Even without an emergency,
FISA orders can be approved very quickly and FISA judges are
available at all hours.
MYTH: Only liberals disagree with the president about the program.
REALITY: The serious concerns that have been raised transcend party
labels and reflect genuine and widespread worries about the lack of
checks on the president's claim of unlimited power to illegally spy
on Americans without any independent oversight.