The U.S. Congress rejected the Bush
administration's request for war-making authority in talks on a
resolution passed after the September 11, 2001, attacks, former
Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle said in Friday's edition of
The Washington Post.
Daschle, a former Democratic senator from South Dakota who
helped negotiate the resolution with the White House, said the
resolution did not grant President Bush authority to order
warrantless spying on Americans suspected of terrorist ties.
Daschle said warrantless wiretaps of Americans never came up in
"I did not and never would have supported giving authority
to the president for such wiretaps," Daschle wrote in an
article on the Post's opinion page. "I am also confident that
the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force
against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for
warrantless domestic surveillance."
Daschle said the White House sought, but failed, to have
included in the resolution language that would have given the
president war powers within the United States. He said he
refused "to accede to the extraordinary request for additional
"Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the
administration sought to add the words 'in the United States
and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text."
"This last-minute change would have given the president
broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas
-- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but
right here in the United States, potentially against American
citizens," Daschle wrote.
"If the stories in the media over the past week are
accurate, the president has exercised authority that I do not
believe is granted to him in the Constitution, and that I know
is not granted to him in the law that I helped negotiate with
his counsel and that Congress approved in the days after
September 11," Daschle wrote.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the Justice
Department acknowledged, in a letter to Congress, that the
president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply
with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic
espionage since 1978.
The letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General William
Moschella, asserted that Congress implicitly created an
exception to the warrant requirement of Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act by authorizing Bush to use military force in
response to the September 11 attacks, the newspaper reported.
Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and senior administration
officials defend the policy of authorizing -- without court
orders -- eavesdropping on international phone calls and
e-mails by Americans suspected of links to terrorism.
They argue it was legal and provided the agility -- beyond
the 1978 law allowing court-warranted eavesdropping -- to help
defend the country after the Sept 11. attacks.
A small bipartisan group of senators has called for U.S.
congressional hearings into whether the government eavesdropped
without appropriate legal authority.
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