TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Spying on Telephone Calls is OK, Says Colin Powell

Spying on Telephone Calls is OK, Says Colin Powell

Associated Press News Wire (
Sun, 25 Dec 2005 19:02:24 -0600

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Over this holiday weekend, we have
given some attention to the National Security Agency and its massive
intrusion into people's privacy via the telephone. In the Digest for
Saturday evening, I printed (what had been) the 'secret charter'
of the agency founded during President Truman's administration in
1952. It was so secret, that most people knew nothing about its
formation at all for several years, and even today, not a lot is known
about the NSA. What we have found out about NSA in recent months was
that President Bush has used them for a lot of 'warrantless wire
tapping of people suspected to be 'terrorists' as part of Bush's 'war
on terrorism'. An article on the Associated Press newswire earlier
Sunday quoted an interview (also earlier today) from former Secretary
of State Colin Powell. Here are some excerpts from today's interview
with Powell. PAT]


Powell: 'Nothing Wrong' With Eavesdropping

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday supported government
eavesdropping to prevent terrorism but said a major controversy over
presidential powers could have been avoided by obtaining court

Powell said that when he was in the Cabinet, he was not told that
President Bush authorized a warrantless National Security Agency
surveillance operation after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Powell said he sees "absolutely nothing
wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions" to
protect the nation.

But he added, "My own judgment is that it didn't seem to me, anyway,
that it would have been that hard to go get the warrants. And even in
the case of an emergency, you go and do it."

The New York Times reported on its Internet site Friday that the NSA
has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet
communications flowing into and out of the United States. The program
bypassed the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Powell said Congress will need to judge whether Bush is correct in his
assertion that he could approve eavesdropping without first obtaining
court orders.

"And that's going to be a great debate," Powell said.

Powell, who also is a former chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of
Staff, had no reservations when asked whether eavesdropping should

"Of course it should continue," he said. "And nobody is suggesting
that the president shouldn't do this."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: No one obects, , that is, except for
all the Democratic members of Congress and quite a few of the
Republican members of that body. PAT]

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