The FBI planned to use Carnivore for specific reasons. "Particularly, the agency would request a court order to use Carnivore" to gather intelligence on certain crimes. Well, folks, this is 2006. And King George, he don't need no stinkin' warrants. The AT&T suit is only the tip of the iceberg on this thing. They went ahead and did it. Those black boxes now see everything from emails to instant messages sent by millions of Americans.

The utility of the information that is being illegally gathered is not going to be in any court prosecutions. Without warrants, anything learned could not be admitted in a court of law. The ass-covering claim will be made that the President deemed it necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, and though they won't say it quite like this, that his magical unitary powers give him the right to suspend the 4th Amendment en masse and unannounced. This is ridiculous. Even given keyword-based search algorithms to filter and mine the data, the amount of information gathered is mind-boggling, and the false hits will always astronomically outweigh any real leads. For prevention of modern terrorism, based on informal and highly suspicious groups of cautious people, the wholescale vacuuming of data is going to be useless.

Defeat of terrorism will be best accomplished by conventional human intelligence methods. And, I would argue, by America acting like the America I remember, and not like the impending embodiment of neoconservative global military domination fantasies. Real warriors for Christ, these guys.