Dick Cheney and others in the G.O.P. (which, for all intents and purposes, includes Joe Lieberman), are trying to use the recently-foiled, alleged terrorist plot for partisan gain. According to them, Connecticut Democrats who voted against Lieberman last week are America-hating, terrorist-supporting surrender monkeys. The G.O.P. is blanketing the nation with the message that Democrats — who keep suggesting that Bush obtain warrants before prying into Americans’ private lives in violation of the Fourth Amendment — oppose policies like the ones that foiled the recent terrorist plot. I suppose that means policies such as Bush’s illegal domestic surveillance programs.
Only one problem with that message: The British investigation didn’t come across this plot through the wiretapping and datamining of millions of people. The British uncovered this plot because of a tip. In Britain, the authorities don’t have to present a court with probable cause in order to obtain a wiretapping warrant. But in America, a tip like this would be all the probable cause a court would need to allow surveillance without violating the Fourth Amendment.
Far from rationalizing the White House’s illegal surveillance programs, the thwarting of this alleged terror plot demonstrates why such illegal programs are unnecessary.