"Trust Us" Mindset Goes Against Our Constitution

While the President possesses the inherent authority to engage in electronic surveillance of the enemy outside the country, Congress regulates wiretapping within the United States. And Congress intended to fully occupy the field when it passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requiring court approval for domestic eavesdropping.

There is no limiting principle to the Administration's argument that as commander in chief the President can do as he chooses during the war on terror. We are left solely to rely upon the good faith of the executive, and that is not good enough. When the executive shows that it is infallible, a good faith standard may be enough; but they are no more infallible than Congress. The Constitution doesn't say, as my opponents on the floor argued 'trust us.' In fact, in its system of checks and balances, the Constitution actually says, 'don't trust us,' and sets each institution as a check on the self-aggrandizing tendencies of every other.

Electronic surveillance of al Qaeda operatives and others seeking to harm our country can and will continue; it can and should be done in compliance with the law.