Yoo: Wiretaps Were Legal and Necessary

President had right to violate 'obsolete' FISA, Bush lawyer writes
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2009 7:24 AM CDT
Yoo: Wiretaps Were Legal and Necessary
John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Last week the inspectors general of the Justice Department, CIA, and other agencies suggested the Bush administration violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, singling out lawyer John Yoo for memos justifying warrantless wiretapping. Yoo defends himself today in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, writing that FISA was "an obsolete law" that the president had a constitutional responsibility to override. "Gathering intelligence—including intercepting enemy communications—has long been a key aspect of war," he says.

Yoo, now a professor at Berkeley, not only wrote the so-called torture memos while at Justice but also advocated nearly unchecked surveillance powers for the chief executive. He writes that presidents since FDR have "lived up to their duty in times of crisis," and last week's report was "responding to the media-stoked politics of recrimination." For Yoo, the justification for wiretapping is self-evident; the military and intelligence agencies can't defend the nation "unless they know where to aim." (More John Yoo stories.)

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