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Alan Colmes Smacks Down Newt Gingrich Over Bush Spy Scandal

Reported by Ellen - December 23, 2005

Newt Gingrich, appearing on Wednesday night's (12/21/05) Hannity & Colmes, blamed "liberal Democrats" for blocking the Patriot Act and trying to "cripple" the Commander-in-Chief by speaking out against Bush's authorization of domestic spying without a warrant. Unfortunately for Gingrich, Alan Colmes caught every one of his lies and distortions and threw them right back at him.

Gingrich began the interview talking about the short-term extension of the Patriot Act with Rich Lowry. Gingrich was either woefully misinformed or else he was deliberately lying when he told Lowry that, "My assumption is that the liberal Democrats are going to block the passage of the long-term extension but at the same time, the liberal Democrats don't want to be seen as leaving the country without any protection for the next six months or a year so this is a deal, quite frankly, to kick the ball down the road... But there is a pretty good case to be made that the liberals in the senate are being pretty irresponsible."

He tried to make it look like Democratic partisan politics. "If the country decides that Harry Reid is putting the ACLU left-wing, very narrow version of privacy ahead of the rest of the country, I suspect the Democrats would suffer a substantial repudiation in 2006."

Comment: In fact, the blockage of the Patriot Act was achieved with the support of four Republican senators, three of whom worked with three Democrats since before Thanksgiving to put increased protection for civil liberties into the Act. It was the White House, which refused to go along with an initial attempt for an extension in order to work out a solution, which caused the final showdown. Republican John Sununu explained it on H&C the day of the filibuster. How could Gingrich not know?

Lowry then mentioned the "so-called NSA scandal" and condescendingly asked how much of a risk it is for Democrats to be talking about impeaching "a president for doing his utmost to protect our national security?"

Gingrich snidely said, "You can't replace a contract with America with a contract with San Francisco and Vermont (snide laughter from Lowry)... The average American... is not going to take very lightly the idea that the Commander-in-Chief ought to be crippled." Adding that he believes in the rule of law, Gingrich said that if Congress needs to pass a new law giving Bush "a stronger, clearer opportunity" to pursue terrorists, they ought to.

Then it was Colmes' turn. He started by saying that if Bush wanted a new law, he should have asked for one or fought to expand the laws already in existence.

Colmes added that four Republicans joined the Democrats to block the Patriot Act. "Because people in good conscience feel that this does not help protect the country does not mean Democrats or liberals don't care about the security of the country... For example, Mr. Speaker, how many jury convictions have there been, based on the Patriot Act, in the number of years the Patriot Act's been in effect? The answer is none."

Gingrich ignored that and told Colmes that "I think (the FBI) would tell you... it has been a very useful strengthening of their ability to hunt down and stop terrorists."

Colmes said the problem is with limited portions of the Patriot Act, such as Section 215 which allows searches of library records and medical records "and we've seen an administration which has ridden roughshod over the FISA court." He reminded Gingrich of a clip played earlier in which the president said in 2004 that all wiretapping would happen with a warrant. "Then we find out he didn't mean it. He didn't even keep his word about that."

Gingrich's snide bravado disappeared as he fidgeted in his seat. "Look, I think the administration should go to the Congress and clarify the power of the Commander-in-Chief... I think you're right on that, Alan." He added, "But, on the other hand, if you're told we have information about a terrorist, it'll take 17 hours to get this warrant."

"But it doesn't. You could go to a court right away. And you have 72 hours after the fact to get a warrant." (Comment: Colmes' radio interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano backs up that assertion. You can hear an excerpt by clicking on the Free Video box on the right side of the FOX News website. Go to "Click here for more videos," then in the FOX News Talk set, click on "King Bush?")

Gingrich started to answer but Lowry interrupted to end the segment. Lowry claimed that Colmes was wrong, that an application takes "days or even weeks." Colmes replied, "You can get a judge on the phone right away. That's not true."

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