Sunday, December 18, 2005

Transcript THE SITUATION ROOM

This is a copy of the transcript from the Situation room Bob Barr talks about the U.S government spying on it's citizens. With Bob Barr on our side, I think this shows that we have gone too far down a dangerous path.

Bush has defended secret spying in the U.S.

BLITZER: Americans spying on Americans. In a story first reported today by the "New York Times" and confirmed by our own sources here at CNN, President Bush is said to have authorized the super secret National Security Agency to conduct electronic eavesdropping here at home. The president is saying only that he won't discuss ongoing intelligence operations.

Joining us now are two conservative Republicans who have very different views on this issue. From Atlanta, the former Congressman and CNN contributor, Bob Barr, and from Capitol Hill, California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Congressman Barr, what's wrong with what the president has decided to do?

BOB BARR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What's wrong with it is several-fold. One, it's bad policy for our government to be spying on American citizens through the National Security Agency. Secondly, it's bad to be spying on Americans without court oversight. And thirdly, it's bad to be spying on Americans apparently in violation of federal laws against doing it without court order.

So it's bad all around, and we need to get to the bottom of this. BLITZER: Do you agree, Congressman Rohrabacher -- I suspect you don't.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R) CALIFORNIA: No. What's really bad is the fact that we have an evil opponent who wants to blow us up and that six months after 3,000 of our American citizens were slaughtered right in front of our eyes, that we were confronted with this challenge. I'm really sorry that we have this kind of evil enemy that wants to slaughter us, but I'm very happy that we have a president that, six months after they slaughtered 3,000 of our citizens, he decided to follow up on a lead that was given to our people by breaking up an al Qaeda cell in Pakistan, and followed through on that to make sure that there wasn't another imminent attack, and thus probably saving many thousands of American lives. We can be proud of President Bush for protecting us.

BLITZER: Congressman Barr, what do you say?

BARR: Well, the fact of the matter is that the Constitution is the Constitution, and I took an oath to abide by it. My good friend, my former colleague, Dana Rohrabacher, did and the president did. And I don't really care very much whether or not it can be justified based on some hypothetical. The fact of the matter is that, if you have any government official who deliberately orders that federal law be violated despite the best of motives, that certainly ought to be of concern to us.

ROHRABACHER: 9/11 is not a hypothetical. We are at war.

BARR: No, but the hypothetical is the -- the other cases you were talking about.

ROHRABACHER: Bob, now that we are at war, that is not hypothetical. We have an enemy that has decided that they're going to terrorize the American population by committing mass murder. That is not hypothetical. We are at war, and sometimes at war you --

BLITZER: No, what you were saying, Dana, is that there were other case -- those are hypothetical --

ROHRABACHER: No, that's not -- Bob, you haven't read this. No, that's not hypothetical at all. One of the cases that was involved in this, was someone who was attempting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and because of these wire taps, we were able to stop that.

BARR: No, you're wrong there, Dana. First of all --

ROHRABACHER: And by the way, how do we know who wasn't deterred from blowing up other targets. The fact is --

BARR: Well, gee, I guess then the president should be able to ignore whatever provision in the Constitution as long as there's something after the fact that justifies it.

BARR: Bob, during wartime, you give some powers to the presidency you wouldn't give in peace time. BARR: Do we have a declaration of war, Dana?

ROHRABACHER: You don't have to do that.

BARR: We don't? That makes it even much easier for a president.

ROHRABACHER: No, you just have to make sure that the people of the United States understand that we are at war. They understand that al Qaeda slaughtered 3,000 of our citizens -- more people than the Japanese slaughtered at Pearl Harbor.

BLITZER: Congressman -- let me interject for a second, Congressman Rohrabacher.

ROHRABACHER: Sure.

BLITZER: Everything you say is true, but why not go through the process of either getting new legislation authorizing this or let the court orders be fully implemented? In other words, before the NSA goes and eavesdrops on Americans, get a court order?

BLITZER: First of all, let us note that all this eavesdropping on Americans were that, there were some people living in the United States, whether they're American citizens or not -- we don't know how many are American citizens -- that were involved with contacts overseas. This is eavesdropping on people who were doing international calls and the list that we got, came from what -- came from an al Qaeda cell that we broke up in Pakistan.

I am very pleased that our president didn't wait around but, instead, ran right forward immediately to try to follow up on this and find out what they were planning. I believe he probably thwarted several major attacks by doing that.

BLITZER: Congressman Barr, do you want to respond to that?

BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it's okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.

The fact of the matter is the law prohibits -- specifically prohibits -- what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn't matter, I'm proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.

ROHRABACHER: Not only proud, we can be grateful to this president. You know, I'll have to tell you, if it was up to Mr. Schumer, Senator Schumer, they probably would have blown up the Brooklyn Bridge. The bottom line is this: in wartime we expect our leaders, yes, to exercise more authority.

Now, I have led the fight to making sure there were sunset provisions in the Patriot Act, for example. So after the war, we go back to recognizing the limits of government. But we want to put the full authority that we have and our technology to use immediately to try to thwart terrorists who are going to -- how about have a nuclear weapon in our cities?

BARR: And the Constitution be damned, Dana?

ROHRABACHER: Well, I'll tell you something, if a nuclear weapon goes off in Washington, DC, or New York or Los Angeles, it'll burn the Constitution as it does. So I'm very happy we have a president that's going to wiretap people's communication with people overseas to make sure that they're not plotting to blow up one of our cities.

BLITZER: We're out of time, but Bob Barr, I'll give you the last word.

BARR: Well, first of all, or last of all, this so-called plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was bogus because it had to do with a group of idiots who were planning to dismantle it with blow torches.

BLITZER: That will have to be the last word and we're going to continue this discussion down the road. Dana Rohrabacher, Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

ROHRABACHER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Congressman Bob Barr, thanks to you as well. An important issue, indeed.

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