That is why war is a bad thing. But once a war starts, it is going to be finished one way or another, and I have a preference for it coming out one way rather than the other.
In previous wars, the country has done far worse than monitor telephone calls placed to jihad headquarters. FDR rounded up Japanese – many of them loyal American citizens – and threw them in internment camps. Most appallingly, at the same time, he let New York Times editors wander free.
Note the following about the Japanese internment:
The Supreme Court upheld the president's authority to intern the Japanese during wartime;
That case, Korematsu v. United States, is still good law;
There are no Japanese internment camps today. (Although the no-limit blackjack section at Caesar's Palace on a Saturday night comes pretty close.)
It's one or the other: Either we take the politically correct, scattershot approach and violate everyone's civil liberties, or we focus on the group threatening us and – in the worst-case scenario – run the risk of briefly violating the civil liberties of 1,000 people in a country of 300 million.
Of course, this is assuming I'm talking to people from the world of the normal. In the Democrats' world, there are two more options. Violate no one's civil liberties and get used to a lot more 9-11s, or the modified third option, preferred by Sen. John D. Rockefeller: Let the president do all the work and take all the heat for preventing another terrorist attack while you place a letter expressing your objections in a file cabinet as a small parchment tribute to your exquisite conscience.