There's more to the NSA domestic spying case than the current storyline -- that much is clear. The idea that the Bush Administration needed to bypass the courts to get wiretaps quickly makes no sense; under the current system, you can start eavesdropping, and get a warrant later. The notion that disclosing the surveillance would somehow tip off potential terrorists is laughable, too; Al Qaeda types know they're being monitored.That's all assuming, of course, that the wiretaps in this case are the same as in any other. But maybe they're not. Maybe there's something different about this surveillance. It could be in its scope, as Laura suggests. But I'm guessing -- and this is just a guess -- that the real difference is in the technology of the wiretaps themselves.Look at what former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who was briefed on the eavesdropping program, told the Washington Post:
"I came out of the room with the full sense that we were dealing with a change in technology but not policy," Graham said, with new opportunities to intercept overseas calls that passed through U.S. switches.Or what New York Times editor Bill Keller had to say about the paper's year-long delay in breaking the story:
In the course of subsequent reporting we satisfied ourselves that we could write about this program -- withholding a number of technical details -- in a way that would not expose any intelligence-gathering methods or capabilities that are not already on the public record.So maybe the NSA wiretaps were using a new kind of capability; one that terror suspects might not have know about; one that might have even made the FISA court uncomfortable, somehow.It's a lot of mights and maybes, I know. But the current threads of this story are so thin, it's time to start considering some alternatives.