First of all, the leaking of the existence of the program in the first place is illegal, and second it certainly helps the terrorists that the program was intended to catch. Moreover, it may even mean that some future terrorist act, possibly worse than 9-11, cannot not be stopped as the terrorists will switch to new forms and paths of communication, now that they know they are being surveilled.
The legality of the program is obviously under intense scrutiny, as the both the Blogosphere and the MSM investigate and analyze. There are legal experts in the Blogosphere who are far more qualified than I to write on this important subject, and I will reference below their excellent posts that you should read in detail and follow all the links. First, though, I want to quote from the president's recent statement prior to a press conference last week:
"And after September the 11th, the United States Congress also granted me additional authority to use military force against Al Qaida.Powerline is the best source on this subject:
After September the 11th, one question my administration had to answer was, using the authorities I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking us again?
We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to Al Qaida here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives. To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks.
So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorize the interception of international communications of people with known links to Al Qaida and related terrorist organizations.
This program is carefully reviewed approximately every 45 days to ensure it is being used properly. Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program. [emphasis added.]
And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy while safeguarding our civil liberties. This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaida.
I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill our American citizens."
Powerline, Powerline, Powerline, Powerline