And the facts continue to dribble out:
U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.
A review of Justice Department reports to Congress by Hearst newspapers shows the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than the four previous presidential administrations combined.
The 11-judge court that authorizes FISA wiretaps modified only two search warrant orders out of the 13,102 applications approved over the first 22 years of the court’s operation.
But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for surveillance by the Bush administration, the report said. A total of 173 of those court-ordered “substantive modifications” took place in 2003 and 2004. And, the judges also rejected or deferred at least six requests for warrants during those two years — the first outright rejection of a wiretap request in the court’s history.
Precisely the type of story that partisans like- Republicans can claim that the court was playing politics with Bush’s wiretap requests, liberals can claim Bush is such a threat that even the mild-mannered FISA court, which approves almost every request, had to try to restrain the ‘Imperial President.’ It’s a win-win for everyone. Except the country.