NSA Wiretapping Program Not Strictly Legal, But Strictly Necessary

The NSA surveillance program — or the warrantless phone-tapping program — has been declared unconstitutional by a single federal judge in a courtroom in Detroit.

Prediction: Somewhere along the line some justice in our appellate system will note that the Constitution is not a suicide pact and will agree with President Bush that this spying-on-terrorists operation is not only legally allowed, but is an absolute duty of our president, whoever he or she happens to be.

Think I'm a nut for saying so?

Well, The Washington Post editorial board said something similar this morning. The Post called the ruling a judicial misfire. The editorial writers note the judge thundered about Bush indisputably violating the Constitution, but then said the judge did nothing to clear the legal air except bluster at the president.

The Post is suspicious of the president's contention that inherent powers to protect the American people enable the NSA spying program, but the paper does not think the judge argued reasonably against that position.

The Post leaves a reader like me thinking that it will be left to a later court to sort out the pure constitutional questions.

I agree that the program might not be strictly legal, though I think it is strictly necessary. Perhaps Congress should amend the law to make it entirely legal. But whether we need it or not is beyond question.

Last week we were treated to the sight of two separate arrests of young Arab men running around the country buying untraceable phones. They are the terrorist phone of choice, and under present law our spies evidently cannot legally listen to conversations on these phones.

In other words, the civil libertarians say the terrorists are constitutionally allowed to conspire to kill us. That cannot be right.

President Bush is doing the right thing listening to these conversations. The Congress is not doing the right thing by ignoring the need to make eavesdropping on these phones legal. And the courts are doing the wrong thing telling the president to stop.

That's My Word.

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