“As far as I know, this is an exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years,” said Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.This reminds me of what Richard Nixon said in the Frost interview:
It was carried out by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “under the business records section of the Patriot Act,” she said. “Therefore, it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress.”
Nixon: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.In a technical sense, they are both right. It is lawful if they follow procedure.
Frost: By definition.
Nixon: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position.
Feinstein exaggerates when she says that Congress was briefed. Only a few of them knew about the spy program, and it is not clear that she understood the scope of it.