Bill Clinton on Bush Administration Wiretaps

WALTERBORO, S.C.—At a panel and Q&A session this afternoon, one attendee asked Bill Clinton about how accessible Hillary would be as President. After speaking to the topic, he digressed, and challenged the Bush administration’s rationale for warrantless wiretaps.

“After 9/11, I think most people thought we may need a stronger President to deal with the terrorist threat, but a stronger presidency does not mean an unaccountable presidency,” Clinton said.

He went on, “Like, you remember that whole deal about the foreign intelligence court…remember the way they pitched that to you? They said, well the law requires us to get a warrant to listen in on a prospective terrorist and it’s Thursday afternoon and it’s like Jack Bauer on 24, the bomb is going off in two hours and the judge is on the golf course. That’s the way they spun it. Remember that?

”It was all bull. I used that law for years. About once a week when we thought we maybe had a terrorist threat. If the judge is on the golf course or it’s over the weekend, you put in the wiretap, you don’t let the country get blown up. But you’ve gotta go back to the court in 72 hours and prove that you were right to do it.

“And if you weren’t, if you were doing it for some political purpose, some abusive purpose, you were pushing people around, then you couldn’t use anything you got on that telephone conversation. In other words, we had a powerful presidency to fight terror. But we had an accountable one.”

Bill Clinton on Bush Administration Wiretaps