Monday, December 19, 2005

President: Patriot Act Obstruction 'Inexcusable'

The President came out swinging at his press conference this morning, singling out Congressional Democrats and RINOs for obstructing the Patriot Act, and offering no apologies for authorizing NSA monitoring of international phone calls and emails involving suspected terrorists.

Here are some highlights from a Washington Post transcript of the press conference:
BUSH: Most of the senators now filibustering the Patriot Act actually voted for it in 2001. These senators need to explain why they thought the Patriot Act was a vital tool after the September the 11th attacks but now think it's no longer necessary.

BUSH: Let me give you an example about my concerns about letting the enemy know what may or may not be happening.

In the late 1990s, our government was following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone. And then the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak.

And guess what happened. Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated.

[It was the Washington Post that revealed the government's monitoring of bin Laden's phone]

BUSH: It is inexcusable for the United States Senate to let this Patriot Act expire.

You know, there's an interesting debate in Washington -- and you're part of it -- that says: Well, they didn't connect the dots prior to September the 11th -- "they" being not only my administration but previous administrations.

I understand that debate. I'm not being critical of you bringing this issue up and discussing it. But there was also -- you might remember, if you take a step back, people were pretty adamant about hauling people up to testify and wondering how come the dots weren't connected.

Well, the Patriot Act helps us connect the dots. And now the United States Senate is going to let this bill expire -- not the Senate; a minority of senators.

And I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to go home and explain why these cities are safer.

It is inexcusable to say, on the one hand, connect the dots and not give us a chance to do so.
Indeed, I'd be interested in hearing those Senators explain exactly that. An unbiased mainstream media would certainly hold their feet to the fire based on the President's challenge. It remains to be seen what our mainstream media will do.