Because they don’t understand stuff. To wit, Mike Allen in The Politico:
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which governs surveillance of telephone calls and e-mail traffic of suspected terrorists, expires on Friday. After that, any monitoring that’s currently authorized could continue, but no new surveillance could begin.
Actually, what is set to expire is the Protect America Act (‘PAA’). The reason the PAA is set to expire is that the retroactive immunity provisions for law-breaking companies in the new PAA are opposed by the Democrats, but the Republicans refuse to pass a reauthorization bill without retroactive immunity, even though the PAA is The Most Important Anti-Terrorism Legislation EVAH!
FISA allows wiretaps with a retroactive warrant: the government has 72 hours after the wiretap is started to apply for a warrant from a FISA court, which has denied just two requests out of thousands made.
Also, FISA doesn’t expire.
So, is Allen stupid or lazy? Seriously, I don’t expect high-level legal analysis from a reporter, but I’m not a lawyer either, and I get this. It’s just not that hard, particularly if it’s your job to pay attention and write about this stuff.