Stumped: Condi Unable to Explain What Gave Bush Authority to Eavesdrop Without Warrant

This morning on Meet the Press, Tim Russert asked Condoleezza Rice a simple question: what is the specific statute that gives President Bush the authority to eavesdrop on Americans without a warrant?

She had no answer:

RUSSERT: What Democrats and Republicans in Congress are asking, what is the authority that you keep citing? What law? What statute? Where in the Constitution does it say that the President can eavesdrop, wiretap American citizens without a court order?

RICE: Tim, the President has authorities under FISA which we are using and using actively. He also has authorities that derive from his role as Commander in Chief and his need to protect the country. He has acted within his constitutional authority and within statutory authority. Now, I am not a lawyer and I am quite certain that the Attorney General will address a lot of these questions.

Rice said several times this morning that she’s “not a lawyer.” That is irrelevant. Rice was the National Security Advisor when President Bush authorized the NSA program, and said today that she was aware of Bush’s decision at the time. Shouldn’t she know why it was legal?