Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales expressed further support for expanding presidential power yesterday, when he claimed that President Bush may have been within his legal limits when he circumvented Congress and ordered domestic wiretaps in the name of national security. Gonzales’ responses to questions by the House Judiciary Committee have been vague, frustrating Republicans and Democrats alike.
Of course, you won’t catch Bush issuing an apology anytime soon. “You can come to whatever conclusion you want [about domestic surveillance],” the president said. “The conclusion is I’m not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program.”
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) pointed out that the extent of executive power is limitless so long as congressional oversight is no longer necessary. “No one in Congress would deny the need to tap certain calls under court order,” he added. “But if the administration believes it can tap purely domestic phone calls between Americans without court approval, there is no limit to executive power. This is contrary to settled law and the most basic constitutional principles of the separation of powers.”