January 15th, 2009
12:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Holder: W.H. should act 'within the dictates' of wiretap law

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/15/art.holderhand0115.gi.jpg caption="Attorney General designate Eric Holder discussed a federal wiretap law during his confirmation hearing Thursday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Asked during his confirmation hearing Thursday whether the president has an "inherent authority" to engage in warrantless surveillance, Attorney General designate Eric Holder said the president would be "well advised" to work "within the dictates" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Holder indicated that a president's power to conduct surveillance is "at its zenith" when the president acts in concert with the intent of Congress as laid out in FISA.

He also said that the U.S. Army Field Manual would be a "good place to start" for the purpose of establishing a uniform standard for torture techniques. He indicated that he did not believe that restricting interrogations to the rules of the Field Manual would impair the ability of the government to successfully combat terrorism.

Holder noted that law enforcement tools like the Patriot Act had to be enforced in a manner consistent with the country's values and "great tradition" of supporting civil liberties.

When asked whether he would support a criminal investigation of Bush administration officials for possible violations of national security and civil
liberties laws, Holder responded that while "nobody is above the law," he also didn't "want to criminalize policy differences that may exist" between the outgoing and incoming administrations.

Filed under: Eric Holder • Obama transition
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. rob

    If you don't like the Patriot Act don't blame Bush alone, look it up. The Dems in congress voted it into law twice. The second time it was when they controlled both houses. They gave the Bush everything he wanted all the while screaming about our Civil Liberties being taken away by Bush.

    What are all of you idiots going to do when the Obama Admin doesn't change anything about the war on terror. Who will you blame, who will you vote for to change it. The fact is it was the right thing to do and NO American citizen has lost any rights or liberties but we have been safe from attack on our soil since 9/11.

    WE ARE WINNING THE WAR ON TERROR, and we will continue to win because Obama is no fool he will not allow the terrorists to come back while he is president. He and the Dems knew all along what the truth was but they were able to fool enough people to get elected.

    January 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Ron Ft. Myers

    Let's spend millions trying to prove all these claims of vioations, that's what we need, more government waste and distraction. This distraction will only keep our eye off the ball, as the politicians keep up the same old games. I'd rather spend the money, which we do not have, watching the morons in Washington like Barney Frank, as they waste our money.

    January 15, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Thomas, Illinois

    A little note to Bush/Cheney and Rumsfield: He said,"Know one is above the LAW"....We're coming to get ya!

    January 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Brian

    As Ben Franklin said: "Those who trade freedom for security deserve neither"

    January 15, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Karen - Missouri

    This is not 1776. We live in an age where we do need protections and the ability/technology to guard against those conspiring to eliminate us.

    The govt. doesn't have any reason to wire-tap me, doubt if they do...my phone calls are more like a soap opera to sometimes boring. Go for it.

    I find it so funny that people complain about FISA yet all our info in on computers everywhere....from data in the doctor's office, mySpace and other personal sites. And what about cameras at intersections watching your every move when the lights change? What about all the cameras in stores or at the ATM? Aren't they there for a reason?

    Give me a break people....don't cry about FISA then put all your personal information on MySpace!

    January 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. MD

    People need to realize that all the ranking democrats were fully aware of the wire-tapping used by Bush. To say otherwise is a bold-faced lie.

    January 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Carole

    9-11 happened on Bush watch...Bush had six (6) years to catch Osama Bin Laden. Bush said he would! What happened?

    January 15, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. BeefyDaddy

    For all you people that say Bush has kept us safe since 9/11, just remember that since Pearl Harbor was bombed we'ver never been attacked in Hawaii. So you have to admit that Carter and Clinton's foreign policies kept us safe.

    January 15, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. Scott Tucson

    Sounds like a real wimp as is the rest of the incoming administration.

    January 15, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Michael in Houston

    Hey HOLDER!! The correct answer to the question of whether you would support a criminal investigation of the Bush administration is...
    "Yes I would and Yes I will".
    You dont have to be delicate here pal. We already know he is a freaking criminal for crying out loud.

    January 15, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Amber


    Where's Osama bin Laden?

    Where's his cut off head on a platter?

    Where is he, huh?

    Why don't I have Osama bin Laden's head yet?

    Oh yeah, Bush has been keeping us sooooooo safe.
    Like when he tried to sell our harbor protection contracts to the Middle East.

    January 15, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


    January 15, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. Virginia

    No one has the right, in my opinion, to criminalize anything that Bush did as President! He was honest and did the best he could with the crummy hand he was dealt (the stubborn very partisan Democratic Congress, and the likes of Pelosi, Reid, and others). While no one is above the law, Bush certainly hasn't done anything to warrant any criminal charges. He kept us safe, and so what if he authorized "torture" to gain information from those inhabitants at Gitmo. They have been living off our dollars since they have been there, and have been better off than living in some cave or blown out building in Iraq or Afghanistan. And a study that come out this week shows that a good number of the Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorism. I don't believe in being cruel to anyone, but someone who has no regard for ANY human life and vows to kill anything remotely American doesn't deserve any special treatment. If those detainees are going to be released, put them on rafts and let them float back to Iraq!

    January 15, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. Nan

    Dear Karen in Missouri – Ever see the movie "1984"? I strongly suggest you rent it and watch it. Then tell me it's OK to spy and evesdrop on US citizens.

    January 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. RH

    Failure to investigate and pursue the conviction of anyone who may have committed criminal acts constitutes a tacit endorsement of those acts. Is justice itself subject to partisan concerns? It was in Bush's America and, based on this information, it looks as though it will be in Obama's America as well.

    January 15, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. TCM

    Holder: "Gee, we're sorry Mr. Islamic Radical...we'll let you right out of there, and give you ticket home.....so you can have a "do-over."

    Obama needs to wise up, terrorists aren't stupid, and they don't play by any sort of rules...except, kill Americans. All this "touchy-feely,' crap about torture and being inhumane...well, for you whiny liberals, you should download the video of Berger having his head cut off while he's screaming.....then whine about torture.....we should torture them....you just don't "coincidentally," get caught in a group of 300 or so insurgents accidentally....As a country, Bush kept our homeland safe. Obama better learn quick, because if he listens to the igorant libs out there...we'll all be in danger. Radical Islam (like there's another kind) is out to destroy our culture. Wiptapping, interrogation, torture...employ all of it to save American lives.

    January 15, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Robin

    Is Freedom of Speech the next to go?

    January 15, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Ryan in Waynesboro, VA

    Look. The law is the law. Period. If Bush and his people broke the law (or actively worked to circumvent it), he and anyone else involved should be held accountable. The same is true for ANY person elected to the highest office in the land. There is a certain trust that given to the President by the people he works for... the public. If he actively and knowingly went against that trust, he should be held accountable.

    January 15, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. Matthew, Houston, TX

    Ahh, thank you, Brian, it was Ben Franklin and that was the quote I couldn't remember the exact wording of.

    January 15, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    You Go Eric Holder they can't even understand you, because your so much better then them. Your top dog and they hate you for it. Just keep showing these dumm a$$e$$ up.

    Black and Intelligant I love it!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 15, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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