On a fool's errand, I have been trying really hard to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Actions can still be awful and thought processes can be completely flawed. But I am trying to form my opinions at least from the baseline that the intention was good.
But these guys are really making it hard. Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey spoke publicly for the first time about being pressured to reauthorize the warrantless wiretapping program. The Deputy Attorney General had refused, so Alberto Gonzalez and Andy Card went to John Ashcroft's hospital room and tried to get him to reauthorize. Ashcroft didn't do it (in what must be one of the very few times I can say "Way to go Ashcroft"), and Gonzalez and Card left.
So how can I assume a benign intention here? The intent on going to Ashcroft was to circumvent the lawful authority (Comey held acting powers) and possibly to take advantage of a sick man.
I suppose some would argue there was a greater intention to protect the American public using domestic spying. But it has been made common knowledge that the FISA court would not hamper the wiretapping scheme. The administration was allowed to wiretap and request authorization after the fact. That leaves naked contempt for any regulation of the executive branch as the only possible motive, and I just can't seem to square that with anything resembling a good intention.
(Update: This Washington Post editorial adds a few more details - and makes the picture even more disturbing.)