[JURIST] US Vice President Dick Cheney offered a forceful defense of the NSA warrantless surveillance program [JURIST news archive] in use since the September 11 terrorist attacks in an address [recorded audio; White House transcript] to a Heritage Foundation audience in Washington Wednesday. Cheney said the wiretaps do not violate American civil liberties and are tools used to help prevent future terrorist attacks. While emphasizing that President Bush is committed to protecting civil liberties, the Vice-President added:
there is no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon.Lawmakers and human rights groups have questioned the authority of this program and its constitutionality. The US Department of Justice [JURIST report] and the Senate [JURIST report] are currently investigating the domestic surveillance program. Reuters has more.