This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Feb. 17, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m doing the right thing. Washington is a town that says you didn’t connect the dots and then when you do connect the dots they say you’re wrong. In order to protect America, if somebody is talking to Al Qaeda, we want to know who they are and why they’re talking to them.


JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: President Bush talking today. New developments this week in the controversy over the NSA program to intercept terrorist communications into and out of the United States without warrants. The Senate Intelligence Committee postponed a vote on whether to launch what was called a far-reaching investigation. And after some resistance, the White House agreed to work on legislation that would validate the program. One of those with a plan to do just that is Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He joins us now to talk about the NSA controversy and what Congress is likely to do.

Senator DeWine, thanks for coming in.

SENATOR MIKE DEWINE, R -OHIO: Thanks, Jim. Thank you.

ANGLE: First let me ask you, a lot of people still don’t quite understand what this program is. I know you can’t talk about it in detail, but you have been briefed on it. Are you satisfied that this does not involve intercepting domestic calls made from one American to another?

DEWINE: I am. You know, there’s been a lot of — seems to be a lot of confusion about this, and it is complicated, but we ought to make it pretty simple. You know, if a terrorist is calling outside the United States to Dayton, Ohio, we want to hear what they’re saying. They’re probably not talking about the weather. They’re probably very well may be talking about something we want to hear. And we need to be listening to them.

ANGLE: Now there’s obviously a lot of controversy about this. The White House had been resisting the idea of legislation. This week Senator Roberts said the White House now supports the idea of new legislation. I gather Senate Republicans have been telling the White House it was time to get on this train or get run over by it.

DEWINE: Well, I’ve had good conversations with the White House and they are interested — very interested in legislation. I don’t speak for the White House. Never do that. But they’re interested.

ANGLE: They’ve finally come around to this idea, you think? And I know you said Harriet Miers called you at home about it. It seems that they’re worried if they do not get involved, that the result will be even worse.

DEWINE: Well, I think they understand. I’ve come forward with a proposal. And, you know, they haven’t totally signed off on the proposal. We’re going back and forth talking about details. But I think that they think it’s a rational, reasonable proposal.

ANGLE: Now let’s talk about your proposal. You would exempt the program from FISA, the law that governs domestic surveillance. But you would add a good bit more congressional oversight to the program. Tell me what you’re proposing and why.

DEWINE: What we basically do in my proposal is say that a call, an international call, that comes into the United States by a terrorist — that the president can authorize this program to listen to that call. But that we have very strict supervision by the United States Congress, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, by the House Intelligence Committee, and that’s really what we need. We need those safeguards built into the law and we authorize the program.

You know, there’s been some controversy about whether or not this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that. And the vast majority of the American people think these calls need to be listened to, but we don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or it’s not constitutional. So I think we need to put that beyond us.

What I said initially was, I think the president did the right thing. But after a while, he probably does need to go to Congress, get authorization and we need to move on.

ANGLE: Now why not change the law so that it actually governs this program rather than just validates it?

DEWINE: Well, what we really are doing is defining because, you know, we don’t get into exactly whether we validate or don’t validate the program. What we simply say is, we define what the president can do and what the executive branch can do.

ANGLE: What’s permissible.

DEWINE: What’s permissible. And, you know, irrespective of what he’s doing now, we just basically say, if it’s an international call, if it’s a terrorist organization as defined by the president, the name submitted by the president, you know what I would do is say, in six months from now, if there’s a new terrorist organization that is just as dangerous as Al Qaeda and their affiliated organizations, he could submit that name to Congress and we want to be up on them, too. You’re darn right we do.

ANGLE: Now you would create a slightly broader group within the intelligence communities to monitor this which would satisfy the congressional urge at this point to know more about it.

DEWINE: What I would do, you know, there’s a concern about having 40 some members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees knowing about all this. That’s been the concern expressed by the White House. I think we can get around that very quickly by having a subcommittee of maybe six members of the House, six members of the Senate, give them the appropriate staff, charge them by law with getting the reports and have very vigorous oversight. That’s what we need to be doing.

ANGLE: Thirty seconds left. Democrats on the Intelligence Committee want an investigation of this.

DEWINE: Yes. That’s looking back. We need to look forward. Oversight takes care of the problem. You know, Democrats who I have talked to, you know, virtually everyone has said, we need to be doing this type of operation but we need to follow it and have an oversight. I think my plan does that.

ANGLE: OK. Senator DeWine, thanks very much for joining us sir.

DEWINE: Good to be with you. Thank you.

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