George W. Bush, April 20, 2004 :
Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, asked at a Dec. 20 press briefing whether the president’s 2004 remarks might have been a wee bit misleading, said, “I think he was talking about [it] in the context of the Patriot Act.” In other words, Bush was reassuring his fellow Americans that he wouldn’t impose warrantless wiretaps under the Patriot Act because he was already imposing warrantless wiretaps with no legal authority at all. He just forgot to say the second part.