A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The AG on H&C

Last night, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (not one of my favorite Bush picks) was on Hannity & Colmes, on Fox News.

Mr. Gonzales discussed the wiretapping and the Alito nomination.

You can find a partial transcript and the video here.

Here is an excerpt:

GONZALES: I think it's very, very important for the American people to understand that, from the very beginning, lawyers throughout the administration have carefully looked at this — the activities under this program. And we clearly and firmly believe that the legal authorities are there for the president to do what he promised the American people he would do shortly after the attacks of 9/11. He promised the American people that he would do whatever he could, utilize whatever intelligence tools were available under the Constitution in order to protect this country.

HANNITY: This is not really domestic spying, if we're talking about international calls from terrorists or known terrorists or associates with terrorists into the United States, is it? There is a distinction?

GONZALES: There is a clear distinction. There's certainly a distinction that had been recognized by the courts. The courts who have spoken on this issue have said that the president does have the inherent authority to engage in electronic surveillance in order to collect foreign intelligence.

And that's what we're talking about in this particular case, where one end of the call has to be outside of the United States and we have to have a reasonable basis to believe that one party to the call is a member of Al Qaeda, or a member of an organization that's affiliated with Al Qaeda, or assisting Al Qaeda.

HANNITY: There are those — the president's critics — that say that this is an illegal activity. There are even some people saying this may ultimately become the basis of a foundation for an impeachment against the president.

Is the legal justification and part of what you will explain when you testify — does it have anything to do, sir, with the fact that we are at war, and the president is the commander-in-chief, and the president has a sworn oath and duty to protect the people in this country? Will that be part of what you explain to the Senate and the Congress?

GONZALES: That will be part of what I explain to the American people and to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And that is the president not only has the authority, he has the duty, Sean, to protect America against another attack.

He is the one individual in our government who has that duty to protect America. And he's exercising these authorities in a lawful manner.

And part of my explanation to the American people will be that he's exercising his authority as commander-in-chief, inherent authority under the Constitution, to engage in this electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence, but also we believe that the Congress ratified this program in connection with the authorization to use force.