Your criticism can't totally be dismissed. Congress should have passed a declaration of war. However, since Korea, the U.S. has entered into wars without declarations. I would prefer we would have had a standard declaration of war.
However, the U.S. was attacked. The World Trade Center was destroyed, the pentagon suffered damage, and a fourth U.S. flag plane crashed in rural Pennsylvnia. The U.S. suffered the deaths of thousands of its citizens. The attack clearly established that we were at war.
An argument could be made that we have been at war since the first attack on the world trade center in 1993. SUbsequent attacks on embasseys and the U.S. Cole were acts of war. HTTP://www.espionageinfo.com/Vo-Z/World-Trade-Center-1993-Terrorist-Attack.html
is a link to a thoughtful article on the beginning of this war during the early part of the Clinton administration.
This is a different type of war than most. We have no country that we are in a state of war with. However, we are in a state of war.
In this odd war, there is no identifiable country or army that the U.S. is fighting. We are fighting hidden shadow groups. There is some trial and error in attempting to find this enemy and stop it.
I agree that the Bush administration has made some terrible mistakes. I disagree with the statement that the Bush administration is evil. However, I believe incompetence has proven more costly to the country than an evil administration would have.
The NSA, FBI, etc. are made up of Americans who are mostly partiotic, loyal, and have a keen sense of freedom. They truly act in our best interest to the best of their ability. I agree that the FISA court and other measures to preserve freedoms must be taken. HOwever, when we are fighting a shadowy, deadly enemy, we need unusual tactics.
When the telecoms were approached, it was at least after 1993. The U.S. was already in a state of attack. Any cooperation with the government should be treated as a partiotic act. If anyone in the Bush administration, violated the law in their zeal to protect the U.S. then those individuals should be prosecuted and pay any penalty.