This Washington Post story runs under the catchy headline:
Administration Revives Dispute Over Eavesdropping Authority
I was intrigued. Why, I wondered, would the administration want to talk about this any more? And what “debate?” Well, as I should have expected, the “debate” was silly and wholly irrelevant to the facts of the case.
the Bush administration yesterday reopened a dispute about whether it tried and failed to obtain direct congressional authority for use of the president’s war-making powers on U.S. territory.
So we aren’t actually debating whether the warrantless wiretapping was illegal or not. And we’re not debating the FISA law, or the fact that warrantless wiretapping occurred. What exactly are we debating? Essentially, whether or not the administration knew that their actions would not be legal. That’s the only thing the “asking for permission” factor would demonstrate. But warrantless wiretaps are illegal whether or not the President knows that they are.
The rest of the article is just he-said he-said journalism:
“Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote” on Sept. 14, 2001, Daschle wrote, the White House asked to insert the words “in the United States” into the use-of-force resolution. “I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority,” Daschle added. “I refused.”
. . .
Reached by telephone last night, [David] Crane [aide to Trent Lott, who Daschle's office said brought the request to them] said he has “absolutely no recollection of that ever having occurred.” Though he took part in negotiations over the use-of-force resolution, Crane said, he had been reassigned to another task before the resolution reached the Senate floor.
Oh, good. No one knows what happened about an irrelevant question. What kind of news is this? Why not take a moment to talk about whether or not violating the law is illegal, or even doing a little background on whether it makes sense to classify wiretapping in the United States as a use of force?