The ABA says Chimpy must seek approval for his warrantless eavesdropping, and calls Abu Gonzales arguments bullshit.
Democratic and Republican attorneys overwhelmingly approved a resolution Monday urging President Bush to seek approval behind the closed doors of a courtroom before engaging in any more eavesdropping on international telephone calls.
“I want the president to listen to terrorists as much as he does,” former Miami federal prosecutor Neal Sonnett said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with the president in our desire to fight terrorism in this country and around the world. But . . . we cannot allow the Constitution and our rights to become victims in the fight against terrorism.”
Sonnett chaired a committee that drafted the resolution, which was overwhelmingly passed Monday by American Bar Association members at their midyear meeting in Chicago. Former FBI Director William Sessions also sat on the committee.
The attorneys said that, contrary to arguments by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Bush does not have legal authority to ignore the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — passed as a response to executive abuses of the Watergate era — and eavesdrop on conversations without seeking approval of the secret courts set up by the act.
Gonzales told a congressional panel that the act does not allow the government the “nimbleness” to respond to terror threats.
If that’s the case, Gonzales should ask Congress to amend the act as it has already done four times since 2001, Sonnett said.
The ABA, with 407,000 members, also urged Congress to make clear that its resolution allowing Bush to use force to respond to terrorism did not give him authority to disregard FISA. The chairman of the ABA’s New York delegation tried to delete that paragraph from the resolution but was defeated by a voice vote.