2004 April 20

President Bush Lies About Warrantless Wiretapping


In a speech in Buffalo, New York, on this day President George W. Bush asserted that the government did not engage in illegal warrantless wiretapping. The statement was a lie. The comment was in response to repeated allegations that, in the war on terrorism, the Bush administration was violating the law on wiretapping and other forms of surveillance. Bush had secretly ordered illegal NSA spying on October 4, 2001.

On December 16, 2005, in fact, The New York Times exposed illegal National Security Agency (NSA) spying on Americans in violation of the FISA law which was designed to limit it. As it turned out, NSA spying in 2005 was far more extensive than the Times story indicated. The greater extent of NSA spying was revealed in media stories beginning on June 5, 2013 based on documents stolen and leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.

Bush, speaking in Buffalo: “…. there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. 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. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.”

Learn more about surveillance and the war on terrorism: https://www.aclu.org/time-rein-surveillance-state-0

Read the White House press release on Bush’s remarks:  http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040420-2.html

And more about the history of wiretapping: https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/aclu-history-wiretapping-new-kind-search-and-seizure

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