In two earlier posts I discussed the puzzle of why the National Security Agency chose to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. If the NSA wished to intercept messages why not either get warrants from the FISA court, as the law required, or ask Congess to amend the act? The act itself provides a two week window after the start of a war, obviously intended to permit amendment, and in the weeks immediately after 9/11 it is hard to imagine any serious opposition to such a move. Senator Russ Feingold's recent proposal that the Senate censure Bush provides a possible solution. It is not one I like, and I am not at all sure I believe it, but it is, so far as I can see, consistent with the available evidence.
By instructing the NSA to wiretap in apparent violation of the law, Bush provided his opponents with bait. Arguably it was bait that at least some Democrats, concerned with their position within their own party, could not refuse. By accepting it, the Democrats give Bush the opportunity to accuse them of being soft on terrorism.
Assuming, as I think we should, that Bush and his advisors are clever politicians, we have a solution to the puzzle. Bush deliberately violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to get Senator Feingold to attack him for doing so.
Tell me it isn't true.