Administration officials recently fanned out across the media landscape and into our backyard in Manhattan, Kan., to tell us we should be thankful the president believes that he alone should determine which Americans need to be spied upon by their own government. While the academic legal community is virtually united in its belief that the Bush spying program is illegal and unconstitutional, political operatives for the White House hope to convince average Americans they should be glad.
But the president's extraordinary claim cries out for three questions we should demand to be answered:
-- Given that the FISA court set up to approve domestic wiretapping has denied a warrant only five times in its almost 30 years of existence, how can applying for one be considered an obstacle?
-- Since the NSA can spy on Americans for 72 hours before notifying the FISA court, how is the involvement of this court a problem?
-- Why give this or any future president such unchecked power when it doesn't appear necessary or effective? The FBI is on record as saying the leads it received from the NSA were almost all dead ends.