Let's take a quick close look at this wiretap scandal.
The wiretaps are being done without a court order, and Bush has admitted this, and he says it shall continue. The Administration is saying Congress has approved this, but it has become clear that Congress has been objecting in private all along, and not going public due to the secrecy of the project until the Times broke the story. The Administration is also saying that 9/11 could have been prevented, and then in the same breath saying they are only spying on known terrorists' international communications. The Administration obviously didn't know who to spy on for 9/11, so they wouldn't have been spying even if they could. The alternative, that the Administration did know who to spy on and didn't do anything about it... well, do we really want to go there?
I think they still don't know who to spy on. I think they are just spying on everybody. Wholesale, automatic spying involving voice recognition, pattern matching, and keyword matching technology. That would certainly explain why they are doing this without a warrant. As controversial as warrantless wiretapping is across the board (the entire field of the political spectrum is upset about this, and a FISA judge has resigned), it seems pretty clear that Bush would have gotten the warrants where he could rather than expose himself to this kind of heat. Especially when FISA, the court that issues these warrants, can issue the warrants retroactively up to 72 hours after the spying takes place! The Administration can't sit there are say that the court doesn't move fast enough to approve the wiretaps, because the wiretaps can be approved after the fact.
So, that being said, why wouldn't they just avoid the legal heat and get the warrants? Because you can't get a warrant from FISA to spy on every single international communication entering or leaving this country. Wholesale warrants like that are illegal for good reason. Recent developments also show that mistakes have been made, and sometimes the wiretaps were entirely domestic.
Comments from the New York Times support this theory. They have stated that because of a concern for national security, they held onto this story for over a year. Eventually they decided to withhold key technical details about the program, and doing so, they felt, allowed them to print the story without jeopardising security. So clearly, the Times learned some pretty interesting bits of information about how the program's technology actually works.
Everybody said it was a bit suspicious that the Feds let Carnivore die without much of a fight. They obviously have something much more insidious now.
Three really interesting articles:
FISA Judge Resigns
It turns out neither Clinton nor Carter authorized spying on Americans.
I'm reporting you to the DHS. Terrorist.
I have to imagine they got me on their shit list already.
i tried to read this very interesting political opinion, i really did. ...but then i got distracted trying to catch the snowflakes on my cursor. YAY!
Occasionally I make the snow say obscene things. I like making snow.
My analysis, that it was wholesale spying, was correct: