What Clinton actually signed:
Section 1. Pursuant to section 302(a)(1) [50 U.S.C. 1822(a)] of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance] Act, the Attorney General is authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order, to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year, if the Attorney General makes the certifications required by that section.
That section requires the Attorney General to certify is the search will not involve “the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person.” That means U.S. citizens or anyone inside of the United States.
And as for the Gorelick redherring I just heard put forth on CNN by Victoria Toensing and many in the blogosphere read Think Progress again.....
In 1994, the FISA did not cover physical searches. She [Gorelick]was explaining what the President’s authority was in the absence of any congressional statute. She wasn’t arguing that the President had the authority to ignore FISA.
In 1995, with President Clinton’s signature, FISA was amended to include physical searches. That law prohibited warrantless domestic physical searches. No one in the Clinton administration, including Gorelick, ever argued that the administration could ignore the law, before or after it was amended.
I have not heard nor seen one argument supporting Bush that holds up once put under the scutiny of a fact check.
UPDATE: Atrios was watching Toensing too and puts the train back on the track...
"For the record I don't think a warrantless search was a desirable thing for Clinton to do, but as Toensing of course knows at that time there was no specific statute covering such things. It led to the expansion of FISA to cover physical searches, and the Clinton administration never aruged that they were not bound by the requirements of the expanded FISA authority. They just argued that since there was a statutory gap the executive had the right. Once that gap was closed, [Think Progress link] they followed the law.
That is the fundamental issue here - not what the president should and shouldn't be allowed to do with respect to searches, warrantless or not, but whether or not the Bush administration believes they have the right to explicitly break the law. They said they can, they have been, and will continue to do so. That's the issue."
There is a civil liberties issue, and we can have that debate too, but this is about President Bush willfully and intentionally committing multiple felonies.