Jed Babbin in today's American Spectator online
lists the regulation under which NSA's eavesdropping is legal. The reg, written July 27, 1993 (and we know that Bush was not President then!) makes it wonderfully clear that obtaining a warrant from a FISA judge is NOT, REPEAT NOT, REPEAT NOT, the only way such eavesdropping may legally happen.Under Section 4 of USSID 18, communications which are known to be to or from U.S. persons can't be intentionally intercepted without: (a) the approval of the FISA court is obtained; OR (b) the approval of the Attorney General of the United States with respect to "communications to or from U.S. PERSONS outside the United States...international communications" and other categories of communications including for the purpose of collecting "significant foreign intelligence information."
USSID 18 goes on to allow NSA to gather intelligence about a U.S. person outside the United States even without Attorney General sanction in emergencies "when securing the approval of the Attorney General is not practical because...the time required to obtain such approval would result in the loss of significant foreign intelligence and would cause substantial harm to national security."
But if the intelligence involves a 'non-US-person', that is, a suspect who has no kind of resident or citizen status, then the gate is open. No approval needed.
So why in the holy hell didn't Bush just SAY THIS???????? After hearing this law, any sane listener could understand that the objections from internal enemies are false and pointless. Bush DIDN'T say this, but instead mumbled some meaningless junk about checking with legal authorities. So the enemy statements are allowed to take on the flavor of truth, which gives added momentum to enemy sympathizers. And without the text, loyal Americans are forced to argue that legality doesn't matter when millions of lives at stake. This argument is absolutely moral, valid, and true, but we wouldn't even have to make
the argument if Bush had simply quoted the law.