2008-03-28 Mukasey backs Bush efforts on wiretapping
|Author:||Bob Egelko (writingscat)|
|Source:||San Francisco Chronicle (articlescat)|
|Topics:||warrantless wiretapping Michael Mukasey hypocrisy|
|Categories:||warrantless wiretapping Michael Mukasey hypocrisy|
Mukasey backs Bush efforts on wiretapping
Attorney General Michael Mukasey defended the Bush administration's wiretapping program Thursday to a San Francisco audience and suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have been prevented if the government had been able to monitor an overseas phone call to the United States.
The government "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody picks up a phone in Iraq and calls the United States," Mukasey said in a question-and-answer session after a speech to the Commonwealth Club.
Before the 2001 terrorist attacks, he said, "we knew that there had been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went. You've got 3,000 people who went to work that day, and didn't come home, to show for that."
Mukasey did not specify the call to which he referred. He also did not explain why the government, if it knew of telephone calls from suspected foreign terrorists, hadn't sought a wiretapping warrant from a court established by Congress to authorize terrorist surveillance, or hadn't monitored all such calls without a warrant for 72 hours as allowed by law. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for more information.
It's entirely possible that the phone call in question was the one mentioned in this 2003 Newsweek article ("tomorrow is zero hour"), which was intercepted before 9/11 but was not translated in time – apparently due to severe quality control and security issues at the FBI's translation division. To suggest that the problem could have been solved by easier access to wiretaps is sheer hypocrisy.
 shorter text
“Attorney General Michael Mukasey defended the Bush administration's wiretapping program Thursday to a San Francisco audience and suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have been prevented if the government had been able to monitor an overseas phone call to the United States.”