Phone eavesdropping defense rings hollow

Re "Bush Defends Eavesdropping as Defense Against Terrorism," Dec. 18

It is insulting nonsense for President Bush to claim that he needs wiretaps without warrants to protect Americans from terrorism.

If Bush were serious about protecting us from terrorism, he might have implemented more of the 9/11 commission's recommendations. Why should Bush have special powers when he hasn't done many of the things that could be done without special powers? Bush's real interest is in expanding executive powers and avoiding accountability. It's become increasingly clear that the only recourse for holding him accountable is impeachment.

CHARLES BEREZIN

Los Angeles

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Terrorists may have attacked us on 9/11, but it's how we respond that will hand them their real victory. I have never felt unsafe in my own home, but my stepdaughter is studying abroad in Barcelona, and we speak to her on a regular basis. Now I can't help but wonder if my phone was tapped. The president claims he's using his executive privilege to protect us. But add to the secret wiretaps his belief in torture and in holding people without due process, and I can't help but feel that we're starting to resemble the country we just invaded.

BARBARA DAVILMAN

Burbank

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Your editorial "Bigger brother" (Dec. 18) is correct. The American public deserves an explanation why Bush depended on unilateral executive power to approve domestic surveillance when Congress' Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act explicitly provides for special courts to authorize domestic spying.

This effort is similar to the 2001 unilateral executive authorization of military tribunals and the Bush administration's conduct of the war on terror litigation, epitomized by its machinations in treating [American citizens] Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla.

CARL TOBIAS

Professor of Law

University of Richmond, Va.

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President Clinton lied about his extramarital affair. Clinton: Impeached.

Bush manipulated intelligence about the need to go to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed weapons of mass destruction; he threatened to veto Sen. John McCain's amendment to ban torture; and he permitted the National Security Agency to wiretap American citizens without first obtaining court clearance.

George W. Bush: Don't hold your breath!

BERNICE BALFOUR

Anaheim

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I now see why Bush and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin are such good friends.

BILL TILDEN

Oakland

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