If anyone knows the law well, it's the collective membership of the American Bar Association. But I don't expect Bush to listen to them. He just has Gonzales make up their own fantasy version of what's "legal".
The American Bar Association told President George W. Bush on Monday to either stop domestic eavesdropping without a warrant or get the law changed to make it legal.
"We hope the President will listen," association president Michael Grecco told reporters after the more than 500 members of its policy-setting body passed a resolution saying that both national security and constitutional freedoms needed to be protected.
"We do not say surveillance should be stopped, only that it comply with the law," said Neal Sonnett, a Miami lawyer who headed the task force formed to look at the issue not long after the spying program came to light in December.
Authorized by Bush in 2001, the program allows the National Security Agency to monitor the international phone calls and e-mails of US citizens to track people with ties to al Qaeda and other militant groups.
The White House has said warrantless eavesdropping is legal under Bush's constitutional powers as commander-in-chief and a congressional authorization for the use of military force adopted days after the September 11 attacks.
The program bypassed secret courts created under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, that grant warrants.
"We are not trying to limit the President's ability to go after terrorists," Sonnett told the group's House of Delegates before it passed his task force's resolution with relatively little debate.
"Nobody wants to hamstring the President," he added, "But we cannot allow the US Constitution and our rights to become a victim of terrorism," he added.
Grecco told the group the issue is not whether the President can conduct surveillance but whether he can do it unilaterally.