Skip navigation

In April of 2004, while George Bush was authorizing illegal wiretaps, he stated in a national speech that “a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed.” You can watch the video for yourself at ThinkProgress:

Bush Speech on Wiretaps

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Brendan Nyhan has cataloged five of Bush’s speeches from 2004 to 2005 where he talks about the necessity of judicial approval for wiretaps, as well as all the White House fact sheets about them. Here are a couple of quotes from the speeches:

President Bush — April 19, 2004:

For years, law enforcement used so-called roving wire taps to investigate organized crime. You see, what that meant is if you got a wire tap by court order — and, by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example.

President Bush — July 20, 2005:

The Patriot Act helps us defeat our enemies while safeguarding civil liberties for all Americans. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we’re talking about. And they are fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States.