The Spectacle Blog

Still Not Getting It

By on 1.27.06 | 10:45AM

Over at TAPPED, Sam Rosenfeld writes:

There simply isn't an actual dispute between the administration and its critics about the legality of the spying program. The president himself says, in so many words, that FISA was inadequate to the task at hand, so they broke that law. To be sure, he then hammers the podium and yells out a meaningless "This program is legal!" But the substance of what he's saying doesn't even dispute that the program is, in fact, technically illegal.
Um, no. What the administration is arguing is that FISA doesn't apply. To know whether this is true or not, you'd have to know the technical details of the operation. We don't, and shouldn't. But the sources inside the government who opposed the program and leaked to James Risen weren't concerned about FISA, they were concerned about the Fourth Amendment (and the caselaw generally runs against them on this).
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