GOP senator on spying: If you don't have anything nice to say ...

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss says critics of warrantless spying are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Published February 3, 2006 4:27PM (EST)

We asked this morning why the president keeps talking about his warrantless spying program if the leaks about it are supposedly so "damaging." We meant the question rhetorically, but it turns out that Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss has an answer.

See, the problem isn't the president's campaign-style chat about the program or his defense of it in his State of the Union address. It isn't the Justice Department's 42-page "white paper" on the program or Alberto Gonzales' discussions of it at Georgetown University and on "Larry King Live." It's not Karl Rove's speech about the program before the Republican National Committee; it's not Scott McClellan's attempts to spin the program in the White House press briefing room; and it's not Gen. Michael Hayden's discussion of the program at the National Press Club.

No, Sen. Chambliss says, the danger comes only when people speak of the spying program in critical ways. During proceedings Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chambliss said: "Those folks who continue to go out front and talk in a negative way about this program may be aiding and abetting the terrorists."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Espionage Saxby Chambliss R-ga.