Though it is always difficult to fact-check Bush’s speeches, so fraught are they with politically motivated distortions, the Times should be commended for taking the time in this case. If only all U.S. print, broadcast, and Internet media were as concerned about presenting the truth over “truthiness.”
Bush did not name names, but was apparently reiterating the argument offered earlier this month by Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales, who invoked Presidents Lincoln, Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt for their use of executive authority.
However, warrantless surveillance within the United States for national security purposes was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972--long after Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt stopped issuing orders. That led to the 1978 passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that Bush essentially bypassed in authorizing the program after the Sept. 11 attacks.
READ MORE: “Bush on Spying, or the ‘Duty to Speak With Candor’ Revisited,” by Tim Grieve (Salon); “In Realm of Political Illusion, the World’s a Stage,” by Gene Lyons (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette).