Originally Posted by baby boo
The reason they can't go to the FISA court is because it is a data mining operation. Meaning that a large number of overseas conversations are intercepted and they don't know ahead of time which ones will yield valuable information. They can't just go to the court and say "we want one million wiretaps."
The governments data mining operations is a completely seperate issue from wiretapping phone and internet conversations. Data mining is set up to specifically look for relationships between information and connect the dots as it were, whereas wiretapping is done with the specific intent to evesdrop on a private conversation of either phone, IM, or email. The decision by the federal courts to halt the NSA wiretapping does not affect the data mining operation which does none of that.
A requirement that law enforcement demonstrate probable cause may help law enforcement focus their efforts on true threats, thus avoiding the problem of information overload.
As for the Why... the requirement that law enforcement demonstrate probable cause before a judge preserves the Founders' system of checks and balances that protects against one branch gathering too much power. The Founders recognized that one of the chief dangers to liberty was the concentration of power in a few hands, which is why they carefully divided power among the three branches. I would remind those who claim that we must set aside the constitutional requirements during war that the founders were especially concerned about the consolidation of power during times of war and national emergences. Warrants are necessary to ensure that checks on agents actions exist so they comply with protections for the individuals civil rights, and to suggest otherwise only invites the risk of abuse and the subsequent intrusion into privacy... which would be severe.
Warrants--so quaint, so creaky, so arcane. This too what the British thought, back there in the late 18th Century, when they deemed it wholly unnecessary to employ such aged artifacts when searching and seizing persons and property in the American colonies. This the primary reason, according to such authorities as John Adams and multiple members of the United States Supreme Court, that the American colonists eventually erupted in revolution.