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McCain on Warrantless Wiretapping: Where Does He Stand?

McCain believes President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program is legal, according to one of McCain's top advisers. Bush justifies the program based on an unprecedented assertion of executive power, sure to be a legacy of his administration. McCain now appears to embrace this interpretation.

In a letter to the National Review McCain-insider Douglas Holtz-Eakin, wrote:

[N]either the administration nor the telecoms need to apologize for actions that most people, except for the ACLU and trial lawyers, understand were constitutional and appropriate in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Going back in time, I found that in January 2006, McCain told Fox News that he was against the spying program. When asked by Mike Wallace whether Bush had the authority to engage in warrantless wiretapping, McCain said:

You know, I don’t think so, but why not come to Congress? We can sort this all out. I don’t think — I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here’s why we need this capability, that they wouldn’t get it. And so let’s have the hearings.

For a further look,


The NY Times also reports that just six months ago, McCain opposed the Bush view he seems to endorse now.

I'm not sure how McCain's recent tendency to turn towards the Republican base, and away from his previous distaste for Bush's surveillance and interrogation tactics will play out. Must McCain adopt Bush's unique constitutional theory to relay his tough-on-terrorism message? Where do you hope John McCain stands on this issue?


Join The Conversation
rabidmoon rabidmoon 9 years
You forgot his appointment of James Watt as Secretary of the Interior, the budget-slashing, endangered-species-ignoring, deregulating, oil-and-gas-loving, Beach-boy-concert-banning jerk. That made about as much sense as asking Pat Buchanan to head Planned Parenthood. But was hardly shocking, given the other choices he made. To his credit, a lot of promises Ronnie made, did not actually happen, which was a good thing. And now, in comparison to Bush Jr. the man might come off a saint. Which is not a good thing. Looking back on it, his government's utter devastation of the US farming industry is for me, an ironic glance backwards, as we now return to a time when thousands of people around the globe are trying to find a better way to feed themselves, either being priced out of food, confronted with GM food, confronted with pesticide-ridden food, and politically blood-stained food.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
oh and lebanon, you know that military invasion that we pulled out of.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
lets not forget the beauty of trickle down economics (aka reaganomics and my own "hope and pray economics") and the success of star wars.
stephley stephley 9 years
Reagan did more TO this country than any other president in the last 40 years: don't forget the famous photo of Rumsfeld and Saddam when the U.S. saw Iraq as "an important counter-balance to Iran." Iraq was at risk of losing their war when we propped them back up. There was the Iran-Contra scandal which gave us National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane's trip to Tehran with a cake and a bible, and the violation of the ban on funding Nicaragua's contras. Reagan's legacy includes dumping mentally ill people on the streets of every major city in this country, the firing of the air traffic controllers union, the deaths of many family farms (and farmer suicides) thanks to administration policies.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I think many democrats would disagree with you on that Rac. Reagan did more for this country than any other president in the last 40 years.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Right, UnDave. And the 80s. Let's not forget that idiot too.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
ugh i respected mccain until he became a nominee
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Rac - I agree, we voted a total boob into office twice, in the 90s.
janneth janneth 9 years
That little illegal "oops" has cost so many lives and so many billions and all our international prestige.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"that was so illegal even that bastion of toadyism, John Ashcroft didn't approve." It is so sad and true, it is funny.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
No, Hypno. The Wireless Warrants were not part of the Patriot Act. They were a special little gem of un-Constitutionality this Administration concocted that was so illegal even that bastion of toadyism, John Ashcroft didn't approve. Janneth, you are correct but still, way too many people voted for him the first time for anyone to feel comfortable living here. I mean a couple thousand votes in Florida shouldn't have stood between a man who wants to be President and can read and one who can't.
janneth janneth 9 years
Slight correction, rac, we elected the total idiot ONCE.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I think a dude named Benji Franklin said it best: "Those willing to forfeit liberty for security will have neither."
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
You are too kind, rac! ;)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
If I'm not mistaken aren't we talking about the Patriot Act?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
We just elected a total idiot not once, but twice. A man who said he is not 'intellectually curious'. A man who was a cocaine addict. A man who was given everything and failed time and time again. Janneth, I will never again underestimate the average American's ability to vote for any moron who they can 'have a beer with' ever again. Strap yourself in for four more years of idiocy because it could happen.
janneth janneth 9 years
Take it back!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I used to like McCain and now he's a soulless, sad, broken man who only wants to be president because he believes it's his turn. No ideas. No vision. No leadership abilities whatsoever. He'll probably win.
janneth janneth 9 years
stephley, increasingly there's less and less Lite about McCon's Bushicity.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I will not vote for someone who supports warrantless wiretapping.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
*correction! I said, "has always been there", when really I should have said, "have been there for many, many years." ;)
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think that a lot of people don't know specifically what he has done in his career...they just know that pundits have tied the word "moderate" to him. However, if you look at where he stands in 2008, his platform is entirely neocon...with the exception of immigrants and environment. I think that the more people learn about his specifics, the more they will realize that he isn't quite what they expected. "Moderate" certainly does not apply to McCain now. I don't see how anyone can support warrantless wire tapping, when laws have been in place for decades that allow the government to go ahead and tap...and then get a warrant up to 72 hours later. The ability to be unrestricted when applying a tap has always been there, the new law just allows the taps to be undocumented.
stephley stephley 9 years
It's not so bad Monday, now he's different every day!
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
That's funny. I like him less and less...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I like him more everyday
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