As far as the warrantless domestic wiretapping scandal goes, the simple fact is that Commander Cuckoo Bananas has been caught red-handed like a cheap and common criminal committing a stupid, meritless crime.
But let's take a look at the most recent arguments the administration is making. The case being made on the President's behalf is that the current laws are so insufficient to be unjust.
Now, as documented here and elsewhere, the FISA laws are incredibly sufficient. The wiretap can be insituted 72 hours in advance of applying for a warrant. Those judges are on hand to authorize warrants at a moment's notice. Moreover, the law allows up to fifteen days of time to elapse between the initiation of a wiretap and the needed approval from FISA in the case of an emergency. Fifteen days. So, we can toss the ticking timebomb reasoning right out. So the FISA courts are way agile. No need to improve their agility at all. And there's no worry about judges being so exactingly circumspect that a terrorist falls through the cracks. The FISA judges have a lifetime record of turning down five applications. And even if your application gets turned down, there's a special court of appeals set up to hear your case that's been used exactly ONE time. And if two bites of the apple aren't enough, the FISA statutes give you a third: an immediate ex parte in camera (which is a lot of Latin, I know) session with the Supreme Court--and since the SCOTUS' main concern is with their judicial legacy, the chance that body is going to turn down a warrant application with even the barest, faded vestige of a whiff of propriety is absolutely nil.
But the President wants us to believe that the law is so insufficient as to be unjust.
I call bullshit. The President doesn't believe that. If he did, he wouldn't be so hasty to point out that the Democrats were consulted. His surrogates wouldn't be so tireless in the efforts to demonstrate that BIll Clinton did it too.
If he really, really, really believed that the law was so insufficent as to be unjust, there is a specific way he'd act:
"I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law...That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."Mr. President, you're no Shadrach. You want to lead, then fucking be a man for once in your sorry, pussified life.
[excerpted passage from "Letters From a Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King]