March 12, 2006

Democrat wants Bush censured on eavesdropping

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress should censure President
George W. Bush for ordering domestic eavesdropping on U.S.
citizens without a warrant, a Democratic senator said on

Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin told ABC's "This Week" that
he intends to push for a resolution that would censure the
president for what he considers an unlawful wiretapping program
authorized by the White House after the September 11 attacks.

"It's an unusual step," Feingold said of the measure he
plans to introduce in the Senate on Monday. "It's a big step.
But what the president did by consciously and intentionally
violating the Constitution and laws of this country with this
illegal wiretapping, has to be answered."

His proposal is unlikely to go far in the
Republican-controlled Congress. Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist of Tennessee told the same program that Feingold "is just
wrong. He is flat wrong. He is dead wrong."

Frist said censuring the president would give U.S. enemies
the impression that Bush doesn't have the nation's full

"The signal that it sends, that there is in any way a lack
of support for our commander-in-chief who is leading us with a
bold vision in a way that we know is making our homeland safer,
is wrong," said Frist.

Rights groups, Democrats and some Republicans have fiercely
criticized the Bush administration for the surveillance

It allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without
a warrant on Americans' international phone and e-mail
communications in an effort to track down al Qaeda operations.

Critics say the NSA program could violate constitutional
protections against unreasonable searches, as well as the 1978
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the
government to seek wiretap warrants from a secret court even
during times of war.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has said the
president has inherent constitutional powers to conduct
warrantless surveillance to detect or prevent an attack.

He also has argued that a resolution passed by Congress
after September 11 authorizing the use of military force gave
Bush the right to approve the eavesdropping.

Democrats have urged a broad inquiry into the program. But
Republicans have blocked that move, agreeing only to expand
congressional oversight.