Essentially, the phone companies have been helping the Bush administration to illegally spy on American citizens, without warrants, since before 9/11. Yes, before 9/11. While the arguments are always thrown out about how this is all to save us Murkins from the terrists, the Bush administration began the lawless spying almost as soon as he was sworn in.
And now, Congress, led by the spineless Harry Reid, is considering waving a magic wand and making it all legal. Read Glenn Greenwald for the gory details.