Which brings us to the larger problem with this entire exercise. Congress’s overriding goal here is to further hamstring our intelligence war-fighters with legal rigidity and complexity, but to do so in a way that dodges its own oversight duties by passing the buck to FISA judges. White House lawyers know this is unconstitutional, but intelligence officials say it’s more important to have Congress’s blessing for these wiretaps. And because the telecom companies won’t cooperate without immunity, Mr. Bush is being bullied into trading away some of his own power to get that immunity.
Exactly. Congress, as usual, wants power without responsibility. Most of them know perfectly well that the intelligence agencies need this wiretap capability, and they certainly don’t want to be blamed for the consequences of taking it away. So they’re now trying to satisfy the privacy fetishists by throwing the telecoms under the bus for complying with the laws they pass.