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Gingrich on NSA Phone Records Program: Administration’s Conduct Can’t ‘Be Defended By Reasonable People’

By Faiz Shakir on May 12, 2006 at 1:45 pm

"Gingrich on NSA Phone Records Program: Administration’s Conduct Can’t ‘Be Defended By Reasonable People’"

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The disclosure of the NSA’s domestic call-tracking program has drawn criticism from some of Bush’s key allies:

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): “I am concerned about what I read with regard to NSA databases of phone calls.”

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH): “While I support aggressively tracking al-Qaida, the administration needs to answer some tough questions about the protection of our civil liberties.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “The idea of collecting millions or thousands of phone numbers, how does that fit into following the enemy?”

Last night on Fox, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich added his name to the growing list of bipartisan critics of the program. Watch it:

ging

    I don’t think the way they’ve handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.

    Full transcript below:

    GINGRICH: Good to be with you, Alan.

    COLMES: Here’s what the president said in April of 2004 about the whole issue of wiretapping and warrants. Here’s what he said then.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    BUSH: Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    COLMES: Then he said when it came out a little while ago that there was some wiretapping he said it only applies to international communications. And now we’re finding something else. So it just seems we’re not getting a consistent story here, are we?

    GINGRICH: No. You’re not.

    COLMES: Why not?

    GINGRICH: Look, I’m not — Alan, I’m not going to defend the indefensible. The Bush administration has an obligation to level with the American people.

    And I’m prepared to defend a very aggressive anti-terrorist campaign, and I’m prepared to defend the idea that the government ought to know who’s making the calls, as long as that information is only used against terrorists, and as long as the Congress knows that it’s underway.

    But I don’t think the way they’ve handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.

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