So this entire illegally listening to citizens conversations could have broken before the election? Yes according to the LA Times. Too bad the NY Times couldn't have done their jobs rather than bowing to adminstration pressure - we are a republic here, remember?
Or as Eric Alterman writes much better than I could:
It's a big moment now for all of us. If you've been keeping score at home, the incumbent president of the United States has announced that he can do anything he wants to anyone at any time, the laws be damned, all in the cause of protecting us from his own fears. He has infantilized the nation. (At the Republican convention, I heard Andy Card explain to a delegation that the president looked upon the nation the way "we all" would look upon our young children. He was dead serious and now, more than ever, I think it's the most frightening thing I've ever heard from, a public official.) It is a big moment now because it's time for us to decide if we're Americans or not. This is a country for grown-ups who take governing themselves seriously.
If we're Americans, we realize that the president is but our employee. He works for us. He takes an oath to abide by the immutable principles of a Constitution that begins with the three magnificent words, "We, The People." If we're Americans, we realize that there is not a system of "our" rights and "their" rights. Every abridgement -- potential or actual -- of someone's civil liberties is an attack on them all. If we're Americans, we realize that there is more to the country than its economy, that there is more to the system than its military. The Eastern bloc people didn't shake off the petrification of the Soviet bloc just because they wanted blue jeans and the Beatles. They wanted Jefferson and Madison, too, and all the raucous, unruly freedom that came after them. It is a big moment because it is one of those moments that forces on us the fundamental question that a wise old teacher of mine once said was at the heart of the American experiment:
Do we govern or are we governed?