I’m here today to discuss specific issues about and allegations regarding Signals Intelligence activities and the so-called Echelon Program of the National Security Agency…
There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI scrupulously adhere to whenever conversations of U.S. persons are involved, whether directly or indirectly. We do not collect against U.S. persons unless they are agents of a foreign power as that term is defined in the law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department.
I'm bringing this to your attention, not just because the wingnuts are pushing the line that the Echelon program was identical to Bush's program. Yes, the program was apparently called— I shit you not— "the President's program" during at least part of its life.
It was not the same as Echelon. President Clinton did not approve a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. President Bush is the one who has decided unilaterally that FISA warrants are unnecessary.
Rush Limbaugh was pushing this dingbat meme today, and it's all over the wingnut-o-sphere, i.e. here, here, here and here. (Thanks to ThinkProgress and Atrios for the heads-up.)
Update 1.0: Now, here comes Peter Daou with an explanation of why this matters.