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The eavesdropping tables were turned on President Bush on Friday. The president apparently believed he was speaking privately when he talked about listening in without a warrant on domestic communications with suspected al-Qaida terrorists overseas. But reporters were the ones doing the listening in this time.
The incident happened at a House Republican retreat. After six minutes of public remarks by the president, reporters were ushered out. “I support the free press, let’s just get them out of the room,” Bush said, intending to speak behind closed doors with fellow Republicans and take lawmakers’ questions.
When reporters left, Bush spoke about the National Security Agency program that he authorized four years ago and which has drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.
However, the microphones stayed on for a few minutes. That allowed journalists back at the White House to eavesdrop on Bush’s defense of the eavesdropping. His private statements were basically no different from what he’s said in public.
“I want to share some thoughts with you before I answer your questions,” Bush began. “First of all, I expect this conversation we’re about to have to stay in the room. I know that’s impossible in Washington.”
He was right.