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Bush defends surveillance, celebrates court confirmations in State of the Union

[JURIST] President Bush Tuesday evening used the occasion of his 2006 State of the Union address [White House materials] to insist again on the legality of his domestic surveillance program and to celebrate the recent confirmations of two of his nominees to the US Supreme Court. On surveillance, he declared:

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al-Qaida operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
Shifting to consideration of America's cultural and social direction, he observed that many citizens were "discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage", and countered:
A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under law. The Supreme Court now has two superb new members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. I thank the Senate for confirming both of them. And I will continue to nominate men and women who understand that judges must be servants of the law, and not legislate from the bench.
Read the full transcript of the State of the Union address, now online from the White House. AP has more.

Before Bush began speaking, Capitol police arrested, handcuffed and removed anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan [AP report] from the Capitol gallery, where she had been sitting as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-CA. Police said she was taken into custody for wearing a concealed anti-war T-shirt under her coat and charged with demonstrating in the Capitol building, a misdemeanor offense.

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