That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant about government actually overstepping its bounds with regard to the privacy of its citizens. But that is a completely different proposition than this.
President Bush ordered the NSA to listen in on phone calls to and from parties in other countries as a measure of thwarting potential terrorist activities. It is an age-old tool of U.S. Presidents, going back to Jimmy Carter, and has been used by every president—Republican and Democrat alike—ever since.
That should be the end of the story, but it isn’t, and the reason it isn’t the end of the story is that the President’s enemies are so desperate to find things to use against him that they put that before everything else. Literally nothing is more important than “getting George Bush,” not even combating international terrorism or preventing another September 11-style attack.
The President’s enemies are so painfully transparent in these “gottcha” activities that they ought to be embarrassed by them. It is so easy to determine that Mr. Bush’s ordering these calls to be monitored is legal that a child can do it. There are, therefore, only two possibilities for why Democrats haven’t reached this conclusion: 1) They are stupid, or 2) they think the rest of us are stupid. If you chose number 2, go to the head of the class.
According to the Chicago Tribune story on December 21, 2005, titled President had legal authority to OK taps:
President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.The president authorized the NSA program in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America. An identifiable group, Al Qaeda, was responsible and believed to be planning future attacks in the United States. Electronic surveillance of communications to or from those who might plausibly be members of or in contact with Al Qaeda was probably the only means of obtaining information about what its members were planning next. No one except the president and the few officials with access to the NSA program can know how valuable such surveillance has been in protecting the nation.
In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.
In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the ... courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence ... We take for granted that the president does have that authority."
It is my opinion that the Democrats are digging themselves deeper and deeper into a political hole they won’t be able to climb out of. I further believe that the American people are far smarter that the Democrats give them credit for being, and that the people will perceive this childish spectacle to be that while the United States government takes steps to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, the Democrats chose to hamper those efforts by playing cheap and tawdry political games.