I've been avoiding the NSA wiretapping issue because it's fairly
complex, and my attention has been demanded on other things lately (and
will likely get a lot worse soon, as the holidays end and work ramps up
again). However, this post at SaysUncle
doesn't look good for the President. It's one thing to argue back
and forth about whether warrants are needed for one class of
surveillance or another, it's a different thing entirely to deliberately flout the law
when the judges in charge of issuing FISA warrants have begun to
examine your requests more closely -- and even deny some of them (a
literally unprecedented occurance in 22 years!).
If the true motive of the shift in warrant practices is to evade a FISA court growing less placid about issuing warrants, as has been alleged, I have only one word to describe the President's conduct on this matter:
I'm all for wiretapping the enemy in time of war. And I'm willing
to cut a lot of slack when we're talking about international calls to
suspected terrorists. But we're not talking about the enemy
necessarily; we're talking about people the administration thinks
might be the enemy. They might also be loyal American
citizens. And the war on terror will most likely never end (just
examine the fate of other "state of emergency" executive orders to see
how many are still active).
But the key here is motive.
To deliberately evade the requirements of the law is to place yourself
above it; and such a deliberate choice requires a response both swift
To do so over a mere 179 modified requests (plus two denied) from a
total of 5645 is to demonstrate an outright contempt for the checks and
balances necessary in a free society.
I have my doubts as to whether the "enemy press" has accurately
identified the whole story. But if it has, the President has
crossed the line.