Update: To forestall the argument that keeps popping up, I don't believe just because Clinton did it it's OK for Bush to do it (I believe it's just OK period). But if even the pantywaist Clinton admin. thought they had this power then it couldn't be too radical, that and the hypocrisy of those hollering now and silent then chafes a bit.
I always enjoy when the faux outrage over the latest action of W and his band of miscreants is exposed as the joke it is. The sainted Jamie Gorelick, of 9/11 Commission fame and Intel wall-building infamy, argued the case of the Clinton administration that the President had inherent authority even to search residences in furtherance of foreign intelligence gathering.
I did not have warrantless phone sex
with that woman, Ms. Gorelick
Take a minute with me and reflect. This is the same Jamie Gorelick who implemented a wholesale build up of the wall preventing FBI and CIA from sharing intel. Even she believes that the President, to be able to function, must have this authority and that it stems from the Constitution. It's hard to imagine a more compelling case for surveilling associates of known jihadis, than when W did, right after 9/11. Byron York on NRO
"The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, "and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General."
"It is important to understand," Gorelick continued, "that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities."
Even after the administration ultimately agreed with Congress's decision to place the authority to pre-approve such searches in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, President Clinton still maintained that he had sufficient authority to order such searches on his own."
So both Willy and his counsel very strongly supported the right of a President to do exactly what President Bush has done, and yet the reportage screams about this unprecedented attack on our freedom. The problem lies in the deep-seated belief of the media/left that although we need a strong intel capability, we shouldn't actually do any spying. Somehow the activity itself is too icky and so we must not dirty ourselves by mucking about with unsavory types, or figuring out who they're talking to. I imagine they envision a Bond-like character gathering valuable tidbits at cocktail parties, while smashingly dressed. While a nice vision, surprisingly little intel gathering is done in formal wear.
The reason military leadership and the attendant powers to use it are vested in an executive is that action, sometimes immediate, is absolutely vital to security. No group, committee, or legislative body can act directly enough to do the work of keeping us safe from the bad guys. It is not meant to be the matter of course, but it is certainly anticipated that the executive be actively pursuing all avenues that lead to information about those who plot to kill us.
That is such a basic common sense idea to me that I shudder at a mentality that fails to grasp it's necessity. The ability of the media/left to frame the issue of coercive interrogation as torture, and the Patriot Act as extreme have cost us and we will be less able to stop another attack. We cannot allow this misinformation and the MTV attention span of the public to weaken us any further.