The Prez was at his best today giving the Landon Lecture at the Kansas State University. He was clear and not deferential to his critics. He made a point that the Dems will never understand: that for the President of the United States, protecting American citizens is Job 1.
On the NSA surveillance of suspected terrorists, he was unapologetic, insistent, and correct that the NSA surveillance of terrorists he authorized was legal and necessary. And, as he pointed out, if he were eager to break the law, why brief congressional leaders more than a dozen times?
There is so much misunderstanding about the NSA program — and the FISA law — that even Gen. Mike Hayden (former director of NSA and now Deputy National Intelligence Director) couldn’t sort it all out. But he did make clear that the interception of phone calls and such is not “domestic” intelligence (i.e., isn’t listening in to phone calls between people in the USA) and is aimed only at suspected al-Qaeda associates and contacts.
But all of this wasn’t even enough to straighten out the best of the media. On Brit Hume’s panel tonight, FISA was mangled again. Guys, please, read the law. If two al-Q types are in the USA, and either of them is neither a US citizen nor a permanent resident alien, FISA doesn’t even come into play. It only requires warrants for surveillance of “U.S. persons.” If you ain’t a U.S. citizen or said permanent resident alien, NSA, FBI or anybody in the intel gathering biz can listen in without a warrant. Period.
The president’s authorization and the program were legal. And it has saved lives. Now, other than all of that, what part don’t the Dems understand?