Crooks and liars quotes a government report, from the NY Times, arguing that all illegal wiretapping, and the dastardly tactics used to obtain it, accomplished very little in protecting our country. That traditional methods of intelligence gathering were just as effective. Cheney, who's in trouble for ordering the CIA to lie to Congress about a secret program to kill terrorists, did not have to use these illegal methods.
It seems to me that the Bush administration was more interested in making up for their failure to prevent 9-11 by acting macho after the attacks. They wanted to look like they were doing everything possible to punish those responsible even if it meant breaking the law. In that way they could clear their consciences. In the process they've made America weaker.