Let’s Keep it Simple
FISA, which came out of 1978 at a time when the principal concern was, frankly, the activities of people on behalf of foreign governments, rather stable targets, very different from the kind of urgency of detection and thereby protection of a country that is needed today. And so the president has drawn on additional authorities that he has under the Constitution and under other statutes.
FISA provisions already provide for emergency surveillance measures. Under 36 USC 1805, the Attorney General may authorize emergency surveillance (including wiretapping and other regulated surveillance methods) for up to 72 hours, so long as application for approval by the FISA supervisory court is made before that time expires. The Administration already had all the emergency measures it needed to do surveillance without illegal encroachment on American civil liberties.
In other words, Condi’s argument — that such flexibility is needed to go after fast, slippery characters like terrorists — is completely specious, in an emergency situation a warrant can be applied for up to 72 hours after the wiretap is already in place. According to Redd this is done all the time, and anyone in law enforcement would know that Condi’s line of bullshit is just that.
Although Russert did a better job than usual and Condi was clearly waffling, it would be nice to see someone pose this particular question. Because according to the AP:
[S]ome NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said. Questions about the legality of the program led the administration to temporarily suspend it last year and impose new restrictions.
Their protestations to the contrary, they knew they were on thin ice with this one.
Crooks and Liars documents the atrocities.
(hat tip John Casper)