I am naive. That seems the most reasonable explanation for how it is that I'm actually shocked and sickened that the Vice President of the United States would tell a bald face lie. The Vice President is now trying to justify George Bush's orders allowing the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans without court order by stating that:
"Another vital step the President took in the days following 9/11 was to authorize the National Security Agency to intercept a certain category of terrorist-linked international communications. There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two hijackers who subsequently flew a jet into the Pentagon."
In other words, only if the President had been free to order warrant-less searches before 9/11, as he subsequently ordered after 9/11, we could have captured two of the terrorists.
This Washington Post article does a good job of explaining that Cheney is wrong, that the FBI and CIA were too screwed up to even know who to eavesdrop on.
But an even more important point in my opinion is that the same law that requires the President to get a court order before allowing surveillance within America also explicitly provides, in section (f), for "Emergency Orders". These allow the government to begin surveillance without a court order and then apply for one up to 72 hours later. If the FBI and CIA had been in a position to know who to listen in on they could have done so immediately and gotten legal approval at a later date. In other words, Cheney is lying.
What makes this situation really sick is that as it is FISA, the law that controls the Federal government's ability to use surveillance against International terrorists operating in America, would appear to be a meaningless rubber stamp. According to EPIC (a group I regularly donate to) from 1979-2004 a total of 18,642 FISA requests were approved, only 4, all in 2003, were rejected. And it turns out that 2 of the 4 rejected applications were later approved in whole or in part. I find it beyond credibility that in all those years across all of those orders only 2 deserved to be fully rejected. I think it is therefore reasonable to conclude that FISA is just a rubber stamp but apparently even such a toothless protection was too much for President Bush.