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In Desperation, Gonzales Smears Gore
Here’s Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the Larry King Live show last night:
I would say that with respect to comments by the former vice president it’s my understanding that during the Clinton administration there was activity regarding the physical searches without warrants, Aldrich Ames as an example.
I can also say that it’s my understanding that the deputy attorney general testified before Congress that the president does have the inherent authority under the Constitution to engage in physical searches without a warrant and so those would certainly seem to be inconsistent with what the former vice president was saying today.
The issue with the Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program is that it violates a federal criminal law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Despite what Gonzales is implying, the Clinton administration never violated FISA and never claimed they could violate FISA. Here’s why:
1. Prior to 1995, FISA did not cover physical searches. (With Clinton’s signature, the law was expanded to cover physical searches in 1995.) The search of Aldrich Ames home occurred in 1993. It did not violate FISA.
2. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified in 1994 that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches, before FISA required physical searches to be conducted pursuant to a warrant. Gorelick was arguing that the President could conduct warrantless physical searches in the absence of Congressional action. At no time did she suggest that, after Congress required the President to obtain a warrant, the executive branch could ignore the law, nor is there any evidence the Clinton administration failed to comply with FISA.
From AP via YahooNews :
White House Lobs Accusations Back at Gore
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press WriterTue Jan 17, 9:28 PM ET
(Reporting that both Gonzales and McClellan both accused the Clinton White House of violating FISA in reponse to Gore's criticism, AP added this paragraph showing that they were incorrect:) But at the time of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.