January 23rd, 2008
12:30 PM ET
12 years ago

Cheney warns Congress of need for new surveillance law

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Dick Cheney warned Congress Wednesday that a "day of reckoning" is near if it doesn't soon pass a bill to replace an expiring law that expanded the government's ability to conduct warrantless surveillance of suspected terrorists.

In a speech before the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, Cheney called on lawmakers to make permanent the temporary changes that helped close a gap in the intelligence community's ability to gather information important to national security.

Last August, Congress hurriedly passed the Protect America Act (PAA) after the Director of National Intelligence told the lawmakers that technology changes had hampered the ability to collect intelligence against terrorists. The law expires February 1.

The vice president also pushed Congress to give immunity to telecommunications companies who assist the government in the warrantless eavesdropping on terrorists believed to be overseas even if those calls should involve conversations with people in the United States.

Cheney said telecommunications companies are facing dozens of lawsuits and they "should not be punished" for helping the government track al Qaeda terrorists. Without immunity, Cheney warned, the private sector "might be extremely reluctant to comply with future requests from the government even if necessary to protect American lives," a risk he called "unacceptable."

Congress had been divided over whether to provide immunity. The Senate is set to begin debate Wednesday night on the controversial bill, which does include immunity for the telecommunications companies. The legislation faces a number of amendments including one to strip the immunity provision. The House has already passed a version of the bill without immunity.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, wanted to extend the PAA for a month to give Congress more time to pass the legislation, but Republicans and the White House are opposed.

–CNN National Security Producer Pam Benson

Filed under: Congress • Dick Cheney
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Nik T, Houston, TX

    They need to send this man to jail along with Bush. I hope that once this farse of a gov't is over that this decrepit criminal known as Cheney pays for his actions. Everything he says is slime, violent and anticonsitutional. Get rid of him!

    January 23, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. titleman

    Mr. Conan should know all about freedom, he has been around no doubt, particularly to China y Russia... or is it just the National Geographic documentaries & Fox

    January 23, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  3. Brian G

    Let's waterboard the VP to find out how many lies he's told anbd crimes he has commtitted.

    January 23, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Sue, Michigan

    Center for Public Integrity releases a report documenting the hundreds of lies told by this administration, and there's no one word on CNN, but lots of Clinton and Obama bashing, and a report of Edwards' hair. No wonder we're in so much trouble!


    January 23, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  5. adams

    Could someone please ask The V.P. to take a stroll to a local Barnes and Nobel and buy a book called the U.S. Constitution. In that book he will find, our for -fathers clearly state that it is a violation of our national laws to search with out cause.

    Did'nt this guy take an oath to up hold the laws of the Constitution?

    January 23, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. D Mills Garland, Tx

    I don't have one ounce of faith in anything this man has to say. Any credibility which he may have had is now gone. He should keep his mouth shut and hope that he isn't impeached or worse tried for war crimes against humanity.

    January 23, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. charlotte

    Let' all jump on this, coming from such a reputable source. How many lies this time, over 900 on wmds

    January 23, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |

    This bile-ridden serpent just doesn't quit. He's a war criminal, that makes money at the cost of our dead. Satan has nothing on Cheney. What do we have to do to keep this unmitigated evil from returning, a stake through the heart? Or will November 4th do?

    January 23, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. Bandito

    I had forgotten about this specimen. This reminder made me throw up a little in my mouth

    January 23, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  10. Trollmaster

    Watch the Democrats roll over and cave in to the Bush admin's fear mongering once again.

    January 23, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  11. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    I don't get it, what part of the "Director of National Intelligence" doesn't anyone get?
    National Intelligence, the Director explained according to this article that these changes helped close a gap. A gap in the National Intelligence community's ability to gather information. Information important to national security.
    Thats not difficult to understand, we have our National Intelligence agency for a reason.
    They work to keep us safe.
    Does anyone not think that when they speak, the Whitehouse doesn't listen?
    And follow through.
    It shouldn't matter who is in the Whitehouse, when our National Intelligence speaks, they should listen.
    When the Director of National Intelligence speaks of national security and what is needed, people should let them do their jobs and quit complaining.

    January 23, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  12. Hawk,Texas

    What we need protection from is Bush and Cheney. he has been in his bunker plotting.

    January 23, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  13. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Few people leave me sputtering in outrage, and rage, more than Dick Cheney. The man is an arrogant, paranoiac, authoritarian whose contempt for the people of this country, and for the U.S. Constitution, is complete and appalling. He's an arrant statist, very nearly a fascist, who apparently thinks that the citizens of the country should properly have no role other than to serve the State, and that there is no limit to the demands a State may properly impose upon individuals.

    January 23, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. Kim, Dallas, TX

    I wish this guy would just crawl back into the cave he hides in. Seems he won't be hurting any with a looming recession. He was unbelievably successful at helping Haliburton over these past seven years and he surely benefited too. If we can just keep these two nut jobs contained for the next year, we will be very lucky.

    January 23, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  15. GP Geneseo Il

    More garbage from Dick Cheney.....I don't believe a word he has to say....As far as I'm concerned he is a nothing...

    January 23, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  16. David from Texas

    Can someone please send this lier to a retirement center in Wyoming? I haven't heard the old rat chewing lately, so I thought he had already left town.

    January 23, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  17. mr.fair tax




    January 23, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  18. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Since he contributed heavily to those 935 deliberate deceptions used to manipulate America into a war of choice for profit and empire, he has zero credibility for most Americans these days. How he sleeps at night or looks at himself in the mirror is unfathomable to me. Impeach him! Then on to trials for treason and war crimes.

    January 23, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  19. David in KC

    Dicki (CLEAR!) Cheney has no legitimacy regardless of his post as President. (Little George is the real VP) This man has betrayed the American people about the war on Iraq, about outing our own CIA personell (Can you imagine if Clinton had revealed a CIA operative's name!) about secret Soviet style gulags being run by US tax dollars and about spying on US citizens. His policies have wrecked US foreign relations, killed thousands of Americans, thousands more Iraqis and he created the biggest deficit in US history as we stare down at an approaching recession.
    Mr Cheney, sit down and shut up. You should be in federal prison, not spewing more wrongheaded 'advice' we can no longer afford.

    January 23, 2008 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  20. robbs

    I am grateful for the diligence our government has put forward to protect us from further attacks. VP Cheney is doing his duty to help protect us – even those of you who don't appreciate it.

    January 24, 2008 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  21. C B

    If George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the telecoms have done nothing wrong, or are doing anything wrong, why do they need immunity?

    January 24, 2008 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  22. marty

    What next, "secret police" and people disappearing in the middle of the night?

    January 24, 2008 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  23. RB, from the bay state

    The only one that needs close watching is Cheney.

    Do they allow cameras in the Hague?

    January 24, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  24. Debbie

    Yes we know its all lies, but remember these "criminals" have been very successfull at the "fear" game, makes you really wonder what all that "surveillance" has provided as "insurance" that the congress and house will put up very little fuss if any to give these "Con Men" whatever they want.

    January 24, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  25. Liam, Norfolk, VA

    Mr. Cheney missed his calling by being born too late. Had he been born around 1898 he could have found a good job in Germany with Hitler.

    January 24, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
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