Don't forget that the feds wouldn't even ask for a warrant to tap the laptop computer of Zacarias Moussaoui, the French citizen who later pleaded guilty to conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers. Turley says they should have sought a warrant. Toensing says officials knew they would lose because they could not establish Moussaoui was an "agent of a foreign power."
Turley also argues that if Bush had problems with the FISA law, then he should have gone to Congress to change it. But to do so, Toensing noted, officials would have had to reveal their surveillance methods.
Turley's best argument: If the president can circumvent FISA, then "he can circumvent any federal law."
Are we at war? I asked him. "That's a good question." Then, after deriding Congress for passing war resolutions -- not declarations of war -- Turley said, "As a constitutional matter, no."
As a practical matter, though, the answer is yes -- as any soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan can tell you. I respect Turley, but in the real world, it makes sense to monitor international communications to prevent another attack -- in America or against Americans abroad.
Instead, Washington delivers lowball partisan politics. Too many Democrats support Bush when polls support Bush -- the war, the Patriot Act -- then turn on his policies when they think they can get away with it. They don't think about the impact on U.S. soldiers on foreign soil.
This whole NSA story reinforces the fact that Bush is willing to be unpopular, risk the White House even, to get the job done, while too many of his Democratic critics will walk over anyone to stand up for their lack of principles.