Limbaugh baselessly claimed domestic spying did not target AmericansJanuary 12, 2006 7:00 PM EST ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
On the January 10 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh baselessly claimed that "Americans were not spied on without a warrant" through President Bush's controversial electronic surveillance program. In fact, the program is controversial precisely because evidence exists that suggest Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on people within the United States without obtaining warrants -- an apparent violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The New York Times first reported on December 16 that, according to "[n]early a dozen current and former officials," Bush "secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying." Yet, FISA permits warrantless electronic surveillance only under the following circumstances: "if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that ... there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party."
A warrant may be obtained retroactively within 72 hours of intercepting communications, a measure the Bush program did not employ.
From the January 10 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: I mean -- [Sen. Patrick] Leahy's [D-VT] comments the -- during his -- during his -- during his -- his question period were outrageous. And [Supreme Court nominee Samuel A.] Alito was just toying with him during the whole time. Leahy said that spying on Americans without a warrant -- that's not what happened! He's misstating the facts! Americans were not spied on without a warrant.