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Schumer Statement from NSA Hearing Today

Sen. Chuck Schumers Opening Statement from todays Judiciary Committee hearing on the domestic spying program:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. General Gonzales, I want to make a couple points that are important to keep in mind as we ask you questions.

We all support a strong, robust, and vigorous national security program. Like everyone else in this room, I want the President to have all the legal tools he needs as we work together to keep our nation safe and free, including wiretapping.

I appreciate the difficult job you and the President have, balancing security and liberty that is not an easy one.

But I firmly believe we can have both security and rule of law. Im sure you agree with that, General Gonzales, dont you? This is what distinguishes us from so many other nations, including our enemies, is that correct?

The first job of government is to protect our security, and everyone on this Committee supports that. But another important job of government is to enforce the rule of law, because the temptation to abuse the enormous power of the government is very real. Thats why we have checks and balances they are at the fulcrum of our constitutional democracy.

And thats why Im disappointed that Senator Specter wouldnt let us show the clip of the Presidents speech in Buffalo, Mr. Chairman. Senator Specter has said that the transcript speaks for itself, but seeing the speech with its nuances is actually very different from reading the record. And when you watch the speech, it seems clear that the President isnt simply talking about roving wiretaps, hes talking about all wiretaps, because the fact that you dont wiretap citizens without a warrant has been a bedrock American principle for decades.

Nonetheless, Im gratified that these hearings have been a lot less partisan than the previous ones we held in this room, and many of my Republican colleagues have voiced concerns about the Administration policy. I want to salute my Republican colleagues for questioning some of these policies Senator Specter, Senator DeWine, [Senator Graham], Senator Brownback and many others.