In case you haven’t been keeping score, the Bush administration claims they don’t need a warrant to:
- Listen to phone calls where at least one participant is outside the country.
- Automatically intercept, store, transcribe and process phone conversations and email that are entirely domestic, so long as the contents of the communication (the actual conversation, or the body of the email) are not listened to by a human until a secret FISA warrant is obtained. The “metadata” information that they consider unprotected includes date, from and to fields of email and the time, duration, and phone numbers called by tens of millions of Americans, including phone calls by reporters who break stories that embarrass the administration.
So far the administration’s response to criticism that such warrantless surveillance is illegal has been to threaten the people with leaking evidence of their criminal activities with prosecution, no doubt trying to ferret out the whistleblowers by trolling through the phone logs of every reporter who’s mentioned the subject.
Update: fixed typo.