December 19, 2005


Press Conference of the President (George W. Bush, The East Room, 12/20/05)

THE PRESIDENT: The other question was?

Q Sir --

THE PRESIDENT: You asked a multiple-part question.

Q Yes, I did.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for violating the multiple-part question rule.

Q I didn't know there was a law on that. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: There's not a law. It's an executive order. (Laughter.) In this case, not monitored by the Congress -- (laughter) -- nor is there any administrative oversight. (Laughter.)

Q Well, without breaking any laws, on to -- back on domestic spying. Making the case for that, can you give us some example --

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I got you. Yes, sorry. No, I'm not going to talk about that, because it would help give the enemy notification and/or, perhaps, signal to them methods and uses and sources. And we're not going to do that, which is -- it's really important for people to understand that the protection of sources and the protections of methods and how we use information to understand the nature of the enemy is secret. And the reason it's secret is because if it's not secret, the enemy knows about it, and if the enemy knows about it, adjusts.

And again, I want to repeat what I said about Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the attack that killed 3,000 Americans. We were listening to him. He was using a type of cell phone, or a type of phone, and we put it in the newspaper -- somebody put it in the newspaper that this was the type of device he was using to communicate with his team, and he changed. I don't know how I can make the point more clear that any time we give up -- and this is before they attacked us, by the way -- revealing sources, methods, and what we use the information for simply says to the enemy: change.

Now, if you don't think there's an enemy out there, then I can understand why you ought to say, just tell us all you know. I happen to know there's an enemy there. And the enemy wants to attack us. That is why I hope you can feel my passion about the Patriot Act. It is inexcusable to say to the American people, we're going to be tough on terror, but take away the very tools necessary to help fight these people. And by the way, the tools exist still to fight medical fraud, in some cases, or other -- drug dealers. But with the expiration of the Patriot Act, it prevents us from using them to fight the terrorists. Now, that is just unbelievable. And I'm going to continue talking about this issue and reminding the American people about the importance of the Patriot Act and how necessary it is for us in Washington, D.C. to do our job to protect you.

Note how in the initial portion, jousting with the reporter, he makes fun of all the objections that have been raised to his actions and then in his actual answer he puts Democrats in the Senate on the spot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2005 4:16 PM

After years of the media touting that old bromide "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up," you'd think they would realize something's amiss with their standard blue print when Bush came out and totally confirmed the New York Times' story on Saturday. If they had been expecting heming and hawing from the White House about it, the past three days have knocked the ball back into their court.Since there's no cover-up on the basics of the report, only anger over its revelations, the media will have to prove the action was unlawful and/or find some domestic-to-domestic spying conducted under the executive order to keep the story going.

Posted by: John at December 19, 2005 11:48 PM