Out here in the blogosphere, there's a whole lot about the Fourth Amendment being thrown around. But let's review:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oaths or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I am not a lawyer, nor a Constitutional scholar. (These facts are patent.) But to the extent that it matters in a mere private citizen, I am a strict constructionist. Yet I have no beef with the phone taps, as far as the facts are currently known. Because:
[from Article II, Section 1:] Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States...
...and we are at war, a condition that has in the past required the chief executive to suspend the writ of habeus corpus (Lincoln), to undertake massive secret projects with budgets disguised under other line items (Roosevelt), to intern US citizens (also Roosevelt), among other temporary infringements of the widest exercise of civil liberties. Key here is the temporary nature of such infringements, and it's inherent in our system: until a president disbands Congress and calls off general elections (yes, I do recall that some were claiming before the 2004 elections that Bush would pull a real October surprise and do exactly that - my goodness, you people, get a hold of yourselves), there is no statute or order that cannot be considered "temporary." And bear in mind the word "unreasonable" in the Fourth: is it "unreasonable" to assume that a person who has been receiving calls from known members of al Qaeda, a hostile foreign group bent on the destruction of the United States among others, may be connected to them somehow? If it's reasonable, strict interpretation of the Amendment would seem to allow that person's virtual "papers" to be searched. So everyone take a deep breath.
The difficult part is remembering that we are actually at war. I suspect it's always been harder for us to remember this fact than for, say, Europe - at least since the War of 1812, the last time we saw a hostile foreign army on our mainland. So many of us have no personal experience of a real, bloody war - the kind of war the Soviet Union waged against Afghans, the kind of war Saddam Hussein waged against Kuwait, the kind of war that tore Vietnam in two until we graciously allowed the bad guys to stitch it back together without benefit of anesthesia. So many of us forget that it's not just the forces of nature that can cost hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives. Thank God, we in the United States have not seen so bloody a war on our own soil since the 1860s, but lest we doubt that it's possible, take note of the horror of Darfur, where credible sources put the number dead at 300,000 or more. Because at this moment in history, the really deadly conflicts all seem to be taking place in the Third World or thereabouts, we may foolishly conclude that we're somehow more "civilized"; but bear in mind that it was not long ago that the Soviet Union was in the business of killing in the millions, and while Stalin may not have been "our kind of people," he was most assuredly not one of the dressed-up savages some of us in the enlightened West may wishfully see in Africa and the Middle East.
No, he was a real monster. Something that George W. Bush demonstrably is not.