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U.S. Flag and Missouri State Flag Kit Bond, Sixth Generation Missourian
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February 13, 2006

Bond Defends Criticial Early Warning System

History Supports Bush Foreign Surveillance Authority, Cases Date Back to Roosevelt

U.S. Senator Kit Bond, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today stressed the importance of the NSA terrorist surveillance program to preventing future terrorist attacks and disputed criticism from the program�s opponents.

"We are not talking about the U.S. Government listening to phone calls from me to you or from my constituents in Missouri to their relatives in or out of State. We are talking about our best intelligence officials having the ability to assess whether al-Qaida affiliates are communicating internationally where one end of the communication takes place inside the United States and the other end takes place outside the United States, maybe discussing another attack like 9/11 on America," said Bond.

Bond first expressed concern over the damage caused by leaking U.S. intelligence information to the media. Bond recently returned from a trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he met with military and intelligence officials. Bond said field intelligence officers in those countries expressed �grave concerns� over recent public disclosures and newspaper articles on detention and interrogation techniques and surveillance programs. Earlier this month CIA Director Porter Goss answered Bond�s question in a Senate haring, saying that the damage to our national security caused by these leaks is very severe.

Also, critics who say the program is illegal and even unconstitutional are wrong, said Bond, pointing out that the President has the inherent constitutional authority to conduct �warrantless� surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes. This authority is a constitutional principle that has been established for centuries, said Bond. From our first President George Washington to our current President George W. Bush, presidents have intercepted communications to determine the plans and intentions of our enemies.

Despite numerous federal court cases confirming this Presidential authority opponents assert the President�s NSA program violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Bond argued, however, that Congress cannot extinguish the President�s constitutional authority by passing a law. If FISA encroaches upon this authority the law itself would have to be ruled unconstitutional.

Bond pointed out that this is not the first time a U.S. President has faced this issue. In 1940, President Roosevelt asserted that, despite a 1934 Communication Act prohibiting electronic surveillance, he had the inherent constitutional authority to authorize the Attorney General to �secure information by listening devices direct to the conversation or other communications of persons suspected of subversive activities against the Government of the United States, including suspected spies.�

Bond agreed that Congressional oversight is a vital aspect of ensuring the proper execution of matters involving national security. However, claims that the President kept Congress in the dark on the program are false, said Bond. Following established briefing protocol with highly sensitive national security programs, the President briefed the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate and the two leaders on each intelligence committee, democrats and republicans. If any one of these leaders ever questioned the legality of this program they had the responsibility to bring the matter to the leadership, discuss it with the Administration and if necessary cut off funding for the program their Congressional authority, said Bond.

"There are times, to stand up in arms over our civil liberties, and I will be the first to do so when I believe they are being infringed upon; this, is not one of those times," said Bond.

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