Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding a New York Times article published last Friday:
As the New York Times reported, the President of the United States has authorized, after counseling with the Department of Justice and various legal authorities, as well as consulting with Congress on up to 12 occasions, the use of intercepted messages from the National Security Agency as part of our ongoing counterterrorism efforts. The New York Times suggested that this was a secret way to threaten the civil liberties of Americans. The fact is, as is now being revealed, Congress was consulted at least 12 times since September 11th about the President's authorization of these interceptions of communications, interceptions which were not solely within the United States but were from known links to international terrorism in the United States and known links with international terrorism overseas.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that just before the vote on cloture on the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, the New York Times released this story. Indeed, at least two Senators -- I heard with my own ears -- cited this article as a reason why they voted to not allow a bipartisan majority to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act. As it turns out, the author of this article had turned in a book to his publisher 3 months ago. The paper failed to reveal that the story was tied to a book release and sale by the author James Risen. The title of the book is "State of War, the Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration." It is about to be published by the Free Press in the coming weeks.
It is a crying shame that America's safety is endangered by the potential expiration of the PATRIOT Act in part because a newspaper has seen fit to release, on the night before the vote on the reauthorization of the Act, and as part of a marketing campaign for selling the book, something that is blatantly misrepresentative of the facts and appears to be an attempt to strike terror or perhaps paranoia into Senators and others out of some unrealistic and inaccurate concern for invasion of civil liberties.
It is appropriate that Congress have hearings to look into this, but the fact is, the President and his administration have briefed high ranking Members of Congress on 12 occasions since this so-called secret program of intercepting communications between known terrorist contacts in the United States and overseas occurred.