No one disputes that the government needs to monitor all communications by Al Qaeda. During today’s hearing, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) laid out the choices available to the administration to accomplish this —
Mr. Attorney General, if terrorists are operating in this country or people in this country are communicating with terrorists and of course we must collect whatever information we have, or that we can. To accomplish this, the administration had three options as you know:
First, it could have followed the current law which most experts believe gives you all the authority you need to listen to these calls.Second, if you thought the law inadequate, you could have asked Congress to grant you additional authority. Third — the course you followed — conduct warrantless spying outside current law and without new authorization.
Gonzales describes the situation as a choice between following the law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) and protecting America. Kohl helps demonstrate that is a false choice. We can do both.