Just as Senators McCain/Graham/Warner largely capitulated to Bush on torture, another group of dissident GOP Senators are bowing to the Administration on another critical national security issue: warrantless wiretapping.

Senators Larry Craig, John Sununu and Lisa Murkowski, who helped delay the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, yesterday struck a deal with the Administration. The agreement would alter Bush’s powers ever so slightly, while allowing him to continue bypassing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts and conducting “massive warrantless surveillance of Americans,” says Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies.

While the Senators dealt Bush another victory and the constitution another blow, a group of thirteen former high ranking national security officials, including past directors of the FBI and CIA, came out against the legislation.

“This legislation would return a complex subject to the murky waters from which FISA emerged,” the letter states. “It leaves it to the President to decide when he has the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans or foreigners. Whether he has made the right determination will not be known unless and until it is challenged in court.

As individuals with extensive experience in national security and intelligence, we strongly urge that the requirements of FISA remain just that–requirements, not options.”