I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, since I’ve covered it before. Like it or not, in a time of war the president has fairly broad powers to protect the people of the United States using means (like warrentless wiretaps) that might be illicit in peacetime. Every president who has led us in times of war has used these powers—Republican or Democrat—and was completely within their rights to do so.
The liberal left—who don’t seem to mind that one of their heroes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D), authorized the war-time internment of certain Japanese, German, and Italian persons right here in the U.S. under Executive Order 9066—seem to go into fits of spasms over President George W. Bush’s (R) approval of very limited wiretapping of potentially terrorism-related phone calls. Recording some suspicious phone calls seems to be quite a bit less intrusive than the complete suspension of Japanese-Americans’ civil liberties, but such is our partisan world. Either might be morally wrong; neither is illegal in war time.
The Wall Street Journal printed an editorial today bringing to light a story that most other media outlets have ignored. Most critics of these wiretaps have claimed that Bush was required to get permission to perform these wiretaps from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (‘FISA Court’) established under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The court itself just released a (highly-redacted) ruling disagreeing and re-affirming the President’s war-power authority to gather foreign intelligence without any judicial involvement, even when one end of the call is in the United States.
Hopefully we can put this tired, baseless issue to rest now.