What then when the phone stops ringing?
There are hours of new reading daily on the NSA wiretaps issue. It all comes down to a basic principle which has nothing to do with overhearing a call placed to schedule an appointment or order Chinese for dinner.
Let's start with the one thing we know for sure about the Bush administration's program to listen to al Qaeda's phone calls into and out of the United States: It's dead.
After all the publicity of the past two weeks, does anyone think that the boys working on plans for Boston Harbor, the Golden Gate Bridge or Chicago's Loop are still chatting by phone? If the purpose of the public exposure was to pull the plug on the pre-emptive surveillance program, mission accomplished. Be safe, Times Square...
...And those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Having watched one passenger-filled airliner fly into a skyscraper on a peaceful morning in lower Manhattan more than four years ago, I'd just as soon not repeat the experience. If the question on the table is whether it is legal for the executive branch to listen without warrants to phone calls between people who repeatedly chant "Death to America," then I guess I'm for declaring it respectful of our laws and getting on with it.