Immediately after the devastating attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration went into a defensive crisis mode. It was, after all, their top priority and most pressing and important responsibility. Fear of another attack permeated the consciousness of US citizens throughout the nation. All eyes and ears were focused on the White House and with every hour that passed we expected, no demanded, our government leaders to first safeguard us from further attacks, secondly find out who was responsible and finally punish those responsible. In order to safeguard us, a series of emergency meetings with the various branches of the intelligence community were held and it was determined very quickly that the main reason for the successful 9/11 terrorist strike was the absence of these spy agencies to communicate with each other AND NOT ENOUGH ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE. To prevent another attack, steps were immediately undertaken to create the DHS to solve the lack of inter-agency communication issue. At the same time, temporary emergency measures were enacted (after all, as far as we knew, we were at war) to gather the actionable intelligence which was so painfully lacking before 9/11. Monitoring of communications between suspect foreign persons and domestic persons was enacted by the spy agencies after government requests with the various communications companies. Under FISA, enacted in 1978 and therefore in the age of snail-mail and wired phones, a secret court would issue warrants to listen in on foreign agents, etc. who were suspected of doing harm to our nation. The set-up of the procedures dating back to 1978 were just too slow and cumbersome to be of any affect in the fast lane of 2001. Everyone, well at least everyone knowledgeable in these matters, knew that emergency measures were needed, needed fast, to insure the safety of the nation. The Bush administration, the spy agency bosses and the bosses of the communications companies knew this and acted to secure their country and their families from what everyone understood and accepted was imminent harm.
The temporary warrantless monitoring was eventually stopped when it became clear that no more devastating attacks were imminent and with some tinkering with FISA, the nation's security can be reasonably assured without having to go to the extreme of issuing warrantless surveilance.
Skip to 2008 and we have the UCLA and politicians who suddenly became experts at Constitutional law, crying for Bush impeachment and law suits against the communications companies that granted the spy agencies access to their equipment.
To me, these warrantless surveillance activities were timely and appropriate and the persons engaged in them were acting in defense of this nation and the very lives of our families.
They are modern day patriots and are deserving of our gratitude.
Barack Obama, however, voted to get rid of the immunity from privacy based law suits against the communications companies and thus would have punished them for defending the nation in time of crisis. In the future event of a national crisis, when these same companies are approached to cooperate with our security agencies, they will balk and refuse cooperation and thus leaving our country vulnerable to terrorist attacks because AGAIN there will not be enough "actionable intelligence".
I commend John McCain for his vote against the back-door Dodd amendment to the new FISA bill and thus preserving the immunity.
I don't agree with McCain on all issues but on this one he made me proud.