The Corner

Senatorial Prospect

This is Rick Santorum’s opponent, Bob Casey, on the NSA domestic-surveillance program, in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Interviewer:  Let me ask you to shift gears to the anti-terrorism initiatives.  Last night in the debate, I think you said that you’d support warrant- less wiretapping.  How does that square with your suspicion about this White House?  Why would you be willing to let them do that without judicial oversight? And on the Military Commissions Act, would that have been something you would have supported?  In general, your outlook on anti terrorism initiatives.

Casey:  Yeah, I think going backwards the, with regard to the detainees and interrogation, look, we’ve had people like John McCain, and you could give other examples as well, but people who have looked at this for a long time who have been very serious about making sure that we are very tough in our interrogation, that we get as much information as possible from those we detain and interrogate and also John McCain, showing the kind of independence that Rick Santorum never seems to show, took on the administration and I think they, based upon their experience, I think they got it right and I think I would have support that. Secondly, on the question of wiretaps, my position all along has been we’ve got to do everything possible and give every tool that government agencies need, intelligence, law enforcement, give them the tools they need to fight this war on terror. And I think we, in terms of wire tapping, whether its terrorists, known terrorists, or suspected terrorists, we’ve gotta give this government all the tools it can.  And I think what we’ve seen in the past is the system that has been setup when its operated according to the law, and when the administration goes and puts a wiretap in place and then comes back later and gets a warrant after the fact, the system that has been setup is a pretty solid system, but they often don’t comply with it. You can support having a lot of tough wiretapping, but also support the kind of tough oversight of the administration, which I think has been lacking. And I think we can have the two in balance at right.

Interviewer:  Well, it might have been misreported this morning, but it certainly seemed to me as if you were endorsing the NSA program which is warrant less wiretapping without court oversight.

Casey:  Well, I think, look, my position all along has been you’ve got to have the ability to wiretap known or suspected terrorists, and I am going to make sure that everything I do in this area is focused on anti terrorism and making sure that we are being as tough as possible to ferret out any kind of plot or and kind of terrorist activity.  

Interviewer:  Bob, it’s real simple, and it seems to me you are dancing around it.  Either you believe that the President or his designees need to go to the FISA court and provide some probable cause for the wiretapping, or you don’t.  They say they don’t.  They say they can do it on their own say so and there’s no oversight of whether the person they’re wiretapping is actually credibly a terrorist suspect or not.  That’s the issue.  Do they have to go through the FISA court or not?  Nobody’s debating that we need to wiretap suspected terrorists.

Casey:  You know very well that Senator Specter has worked very hard on this to try to get this right and I think with bi-partisan cooperation, working with people like Senator Specter, as I know I can, that we can get this right. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t see what the…

Interviewer:  It’s a real simple question. Do they need to go through the FISA Court as the FISA law has said since 1973 or don’t they? They say they

don’t. We say they do. What do you say?

Casey:  I think it’s worked well.

Interviewer:  What has worked well?

Casey:  I think it’s worked well when you use that system and you use it in the context of making sure that we are doing everything possible to, to…

Interviewer:  So, are you saying that the president has been breaking the law since 2002, or whenever the NSA program started?

Casey:  I’m saying that people like Senator Specter have a lot of questions about whether or not the law was broken.  I don’t think anyone has made a determination about that.  I think that’s pretty clear.

All that’s pretty clear here is that it’s a deeply depressing state of affairs when this man could be elected to the United States Senate at a time of war.  


The Latest