It's The Law, Stupid
by Scott Shields, Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 01:46:09 PM EST
John Aravosis writes that Bush's latest defense of his illegal domestic spying program is that its only targets were suspected al Qaeda operatives. And of course, the administration would like us to think that's the issue at hand, as it would justify the program in many non-critically-thinking minds. After all, if domestic wiretapping was completely illegal, even the most serious of ACLU supporters could see the benefit of breaking the law to get crucial information, damn the consequences. Fortunately, our laws regarding domestic surveillance aren't so stupid. The FISA court exists specifically to give the government the power to spy on people on American soil if there is some evidence that they might seek to do harm to the nation.
Bush could have gone through the FISA framework, but he didn't. This brings up interesting questions as to why he did not. The disturbingly obvious answer is that the program is not limited to suspected al Qaeda operatives. As Digby sees it, "[t]he evidence increasingly points to the possibility that NSA and others illegally monitored Americans who disagree with administration policy and shared that information with all the federal police agencies in the government."
But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if Bush's illegal domestic spying program was aimed only at al Qaeda operatives or not. It was illegal. And what's worse, it was indefensibly illegal, as there has long been a structure in place to allow him the wiretaps he was ostensibly seeking.