King-George-gate: Um, about that "paperwork" and "bureaucracy" thing...
[This is part of my ongoing coverage on King-George-gate: Myths v. Realities. Note that all emphasis in quoted extracts is mine.]
Carol Leonig has a very interesting article in the Washington Post that covers a number of different aspects of the illegal domestic spying scandal. Atrios highlights one part of it (the FISA judges who objected). Here's another part which I found most interesting:
Several FISA judges said they also remain puzzled by Bush's assertion that the court was not "agile" or "nimble" enough to help catch terrorists. The court had routinely approved emergency wiretaps 72 hours after they had begun, as FISA allows, and the court's actions in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks suggested that its judges were hardly unsympathetic to the needs of their nation at war.
On Sept. 12, Bush asked new FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in a Cabinet meeting whether it was safe for commercial air traffic to resume, according to senior government officials. Mueller had to acknowledge he could not give a reliable assessment.
Mueller and Justice officials went to Lamberth, who agreed that day to expedited procedures to issue FISA warrants for eavesdropping, a government official said.
The requirement for detailed paperwork was greatly eased, allowing the NSA to begin eavesdropping the next day on anyone suspected of a link to al Qaeda, every person who had ever been a member or supporter of militant Islamic groups, and everyone ever linked to a terrorist watch list in the United States or abroad, the official said.
Bottom line: The FISA court gave George Bush a virtual blank check on 9/12/01 to do "terrorist surveillance" and yet, Bush decided to circumvent the court and violate the law. So, we're back to the question: who were they really spying on without warrants?
P.S. Considering that there have been many questions about who exactly is on the “terrorist watch list” - let me also ask this: is a “no fly list” the same as the “terrorist watch list”?