Big Brother has been official government policy for awhile. It just took awhile for this to be acknowledged by the main stream media. The NY Times knew for over a year about presidential orders authorising the NSA to spy on Americans, and it sat on the story for over a year while it considered whatever considerations they had in mind.
Bush says he signed NSA wiretap order Adds he OK'd program more than 30 times, will continue to do so (CNN.COM, Saturday, December 17, 2005; Posted: 8:07 p.m. EST (01:07 GMT))
And, of course, as has been the official pattern ... as soon as the NY Times published their story, the President started bashing the NY Times. For his part, the President claims his actions were legal, and that the NY Times was damaging national security.
During an unusual live, on-camera version of his weekly radio address, Bush said such authorization is "fully consistent" with his "constitutional responsibilities and authorities."
Bush added: "Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."
Congress is apparently united in opposing this. The article quotes both Democratic and Republican congresscritters voicing protest. They're pointing out there is an existing channel through which the administration can get wiretap authority against American citizens, but that the administration ignored that existing channel.
After hearing Bush's response, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, said there was no law allowing the president's actions and that "it's a sad day."
"He's trying to claim somehow that the authorization for the Afghanistan attack after 9/11 permitted this, and that's just absurd," Feingold said. "There's not a single senator or member of Congress who thought we were authorizing wiretaps."
He added that the law clearly lays out how to obtain permission for wiretaps.
"If he needs a wiretap, the authority is already there -- the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act," Feingold said. "They can ask for a warrant to do that, and even if there's an emergency situation, they can go for 72 hours as long as they give notice at the end of 72 hours."
In related news, Congress refused to extend the PATRIOT Act. The article quotes several Senators saying this news about illegal wiretapping swayed their vote.
As for GW Bush, well, Bush: Senate vote on Patriot Act 'irresponsible' (CNN, Saturday, December 17, 2005; Posted: 5:52 p.m. EST (22:52 GMT))