Gov't Eavesdropping Ruled Unconstitutional

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Lex, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Lex

    Lex
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    Of course the government is appealing the court decision.

    Wiretaps without warrants were at issue here. The following is from CNN.com:

    NSA eavesdropping program ruled unconstitutional

    Administration appeals; attorney general says 'program is lawful'


    Thursday, August 17, 2006; Posted: 6:03 p.m. EDT (22:03 GMT)

    (CNN) -- A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the U.S. government's domestic eavesdropping program is unconstitutional and ordered it ended immediately.

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the Bush Administration disagrees with the ruling and has appealed.
    "We also believe very strongly that the program is lawful," he said in Washington, adding that the program is "reviewed periodically" by lawyers to determine its effectiveness and ensure lawfulness.

    The administration secretly instituted the program after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. It gives the National Security Administration authorization to secretly conduct wiretaps without a court order.
    In a statement from the White House, Press Secretary Tony Snow said, "The program is carefully administered and targets only international phone calls coming into or out of the United States where one of the parties on the call is a suspected al Qaeda or affiliated terrorist.

    "The whole point is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks before they can be carried out," the statement said.

    In a 44-page memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor struck down the NSA program, which she said violates the rights to free speech and privacy.

    The defendants "are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III," she wrote.

    She declared that the program "violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III."

    Her ruling went on to say that "the president of the United States ... has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders."
    The lawsuit, filed January 17 by civil rights organizations, lawyers, journalists and educators, "challenges the constitutionality of a secret government program to intercept vast quantities of the international telephone and Internet communications of innocent Americans without court approval."

    The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, based in Detroit. Plaintiffs included branches of the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Washington and Detroit branches of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Greenpeace.

    The judge in the case, Taylor, 75, was appointed by President Carter and has been on the Eastern District of Michigan bench since 1979. She is one of the first African-American women to sit on a federal court.

    Program under scrutiny
    Electronic surveillance programs run by the NSA have been under fire since December, when The New York Times disclosed that the government was listening in -- without obtaining a court order -- on international phone calls involving people suspected of having ties to terrorists.

    Some legal scholars said the program is an illegal and unwarranted intrusion on Americans' privacy. The Bush administration defended it as a necessary tool in the battle against terrorism.

    Opinion polls suggest the U.S. public has been divided on the NSA program. A CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on May 16-17 found that 50 percent of the respondents believe the program was "wrong," while 44 percent believe it was "right." The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.
    The plaintiffs alleged their communications with parties outside the country were being monitored by the NSA's wiretapping program. The complaint said the NSA's surveillance disrupts "the ability of the plaintiffs to talk with sources, locate witnesses, conduct scholarship and engage in advocacy."

    On May 26, instead of responding to arguments attacking the legality of the NSA's eavesdropping program, the government filed for dismissal of the case. It cited the "U.S. military and state secrets privilege" and argued the government would not be able to defend the domestic spying program without disclosing classified information.

    ACLU official calls ruling 'landmark victory'
    "Today's ruling is a landmark victory against the abuse of power that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration," said Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director.

    "Government spying on innocent Americans without any kind of warrant and without congressional approval runs counter to the very foundations of our democracy. We hope that Congress follows the lead of the court and demands that the president adhere to the rule of law."

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said the ruling necessitated the need for the Bush administration "to work with the Congress to develop effective tools to defeat terrorists."

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, said he backs the government's appeal of the ruling.

    "Terrorists are the real threat to our constitutional and democratic freedoms, not the law enforcement and intelligence tools used to keep America safe," Frist said in a statement.

    "We need to strengthen, not weaken, our ability to foil terrorist plots before they can do us harm. I encourage swift appeal by the government and quick reversal of this unfortunate decision."

    Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, pointed to the alleged airplane plot that was disrupted last week. "It is disappointing that a judge would take it upon herself to disarm America during a time of war," he said in a statement.

    In July, Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the White House had agreed to submit the program to the FISA court for review.

    Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and the White House said they would support legislation that would consolidate about 30 lawsuits filed against the government, transferring them to the FISA court so there would be a single forum in which to litigate them.

    But the legislation has not passed through the Judiciary Committee, let alone the Senate, and it may never be approved, as Democrats have raised objections to a number of its key components.

    Specter was in India and not immediately available for comment on the ruling.
    CNN's Bill Mears and Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.
     
  2. DC_DEEP

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    Thanks, Lex. I've chimed in on this topic several times over the last year.

    So, a federal judge said it violated constitutional process and several federal laws. Who will be held criminally accountable for the federal law violations?

    Rhetoric. I say let's put some teeth into the law. I'm in the minority.
     
  3. Rikter8

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    I say boot shrub and co out on their asses before they do any more damage.
     
  4. rob_just_rob

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    Of course it's unconstitutional.

    The question is (are), will this ruling actually stop the US govt from eavesdropping unconstitutionally? Who's going to enforce this ruling? How will anyone know if the NSA has changed its behaviour?
     
  5. Freddie53

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    Quite simply. When your door is knocked down and you are handcuffed and prisoned for saying bad things about little George, you will know that the evesdropping is still going on. Of course in prison, you won't be able to tell anyone except the others who were wiretaoped and are your prison mates.
     
  6. JustAsking

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    The amazing thing is that its really not very burdensome for the administration to follow the FISA guidelines. They were put in to be very streamlined for stuff like this. In fact, I think the FISA judges can be informed after the fact.

    Why does the administration show such disdain for the law when it doesn't even have to?
     
  7. brainzz_n_dong

    brainzz_n_dong New Member

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    One thing that should happen is that the terrorist surveillance program should be brought up to date and incorporated into the FISA language in an appropriate manner. After all, the original statute was written in 1978 - communications have changed slightly since then. Who knows what will pass for "communications" in 30 more years?

    Otherwise, it's a valuable tool to try and root out people that rather enjoy the prospect of killing us in large numbers. In a 6 year Presidency that has somewhat dissapointed conservatives that voted for him...this is one of the things I'd give him credit for getting right.
     
  8. SpeedoGuy

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    That's a good point. After all, the Bush administration has already made clear it doesn't consider itself bound by laws or treaties it deems quaint. Will a judge's ruling also be considered such?

    Stay tuned.
     
  9. JustAsking

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    I agree with you BnD, as long as there is the proper oversight. For me its less of a privacy issue than it is a checks and balances issue. If the FISA stuff is obsolete, you would think with a republican congress you could get it updated over the last five years or so. I just think the current process shows disdain for the law.
     
  10. brainzz_n_dong

    brainzz_n_dong New Member

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    JA - What totally blows my mind is that in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush could have easily gotten this through Congress and we'd be spared this set of headlines to deal with. I've read through what the supporters and detractors say and feel that he is correctly interpreting the constitution for this TSP, buuuut if you're going to propose and get passed something like the Patriot Act, why not this as well?
     
  11. dolf250

    dolf250 New Member

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    That statistic scares me just a little. I guess 44% of the people figure that your constitution was just a suggestion and only applicable when your nation is not at “war.” Of course the government should be allowed and encouraged to do whatever it wishes. Just so long as they use the words “protect citizens from terrorists” in their official explanation.
     
  12. NCbear

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    Apparently we are all animals. Just one problem: Many of us are not human, but sheep.

    NCbear

    P.S. What was that quote from someone's sig, something about democracy being several wolves and one sheep voting on what's for dinner?
     
  13. madame_zora

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    Bush can't be bothered with a court order, even one that would have been easily approved, given the reason. It's my belief that he didn't want to be limited by the law and having to name who he wanted to tap. This way, he just gets blanket permission, given by himself, to tap whoever he feels based on whatever criteria he chooses.

    People who aren't upset about this blatant abuse of the constitution simply have no respect for it, nor do they understand that we got to this point having the freedoms we do because of it. We haven't "arrived" as a nation any more than evolution could be considered to be finished. This administration is a cancer in the very bones of our nation, bushco eats away at our constitutional and civil rights, and they will leave and damaged structure in their wake.

    No matter, we can just blame the next guys who come in and inherit this mess. I doubt we have the balls to stand behind this decision, if the program is declared in court to be unconstitutional, that would sure pave the way for bush's impeachment, and I just don't think he's sexy enough for that.
     
  14. ManiacalMadMan

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    Where to start...

    Lex-You really ought to consider ceding your moderator reigns since you are constantly starting politically SLANTED (as in I hate George Bush and so should you) threads. Well, to be fair, I should call them tirades.

    DC_Deep-There will never be any teeth involved, the absurdities of laws have existed for decades (centuries actually) and nobody has ever lasted more than a few measley rounds in trying to change them. People become bored when they find out that a)there is no monetary reward and b)there may be a prison term headed their way.
    Until or unless a person is willing to go to jail or lay down their life for what they profess to believe in there will be no change and face up to the facts, 90% of the people in The United States are too cowardly to stand up for anything and the remaining 10% cannot do it all.

    Rikter8-Yes, yes, yes It is quite clear that your solution to everything is to take out one administration. Too bad that you and your liberal minded cronies didn't put more of an effort into this in 2004...that is, it's too bad for you.


    SpeeoGuy-I could go back through the annals of history and show how many politicians from both sides of the aisle have screwed around with laws for their own benefit; but, you would most likely be unable to understand that.



    To all of you who complain, what amazes me most is that you want a feeling of security and when it is offered up to you, you grab it as yet another opportunity to bellyache and moan and groan about what you do not like in the administration The insanity of the "You will be arrested" mentality that so many seem given to, is quite simply that NO, you will not be arrested unless you are doing something which is threat...a legitimate threat...to national secutrity and the safetry of your neighbors and friends. Now, tell me why exactly you would be bothered (or that you honestly would be upset or bothered) if your neighbor Jane X was arrested after the wiretapping found her to be conspiring to blow up Dumbfuckville in some midwestern state. Again I ask you to be honest here. (I know it's a hard thing to do for most of you, but give it try...for once.)

    I am not thrilled by the Bush administrations wiretapping/eavesdropping methods; but in this as in so many other situations, I am glad that it is there because if even ONE person is found and lives are kept safer, then it has indeed done what it was intentioned to do.
     
  15. rob_just_rob

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    I had that in an internet signature at one point, but I don't think it was here. Great line though - perfectly expresses the only reason for having a constitution, IMO.
     
  16. DC_DEEP

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    I can't believe that no one else but me seems to see the broader implications of current federal judicial trends here.

    A federal judge declares that these actions and procedures "violate the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III." That seems pretty clear. But she not only refuses to demand accountability for what she has just deemed to be patent violation of federal law and constitutional principles, she tells the administration that they may continue with these violations for at least several months!!! No "cease and desist pending appeal"...

    If I were to violate federal wiretapping laws and tap White House phones, and got caught, how long do you think it would take for the guys in black suits and sunglasses to drag me out of my house in the middle of the night? Do you think they would say, "well, that's illegal, but go ahead and keep tapping the phones until the end of October, and then we'll figure it out."?

    The same thing happened recently in Massachusetts, with a federal judge telling the state "what you are doing is illegal, but we aren't going to do anything. Carry on."
     
  17. rob_just_rob

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    Amen.

    We are secure. In N. America and Europe, one is far more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist event. The likelihood of future terrorist events has been hyped up beyond belief by the wannabe authoritarians we have elected.

    Horsefeathers. If you can't be bothered to read up on all the people who have been arrested just because they came from the Middle East, or have some kind of Middle Eastern connection... well... you have no business commenting.

    This is aside from all the arrests we don't know about.

    When the "terrorist plot" in Canada hit the news, one of the alleged goals of the "terrorists" was to cut off Stephen Harper's head. I joked through various electronic channels that if wanting to behead Stephen Harper was terrorism, about half of us are terrorists.

    The point being, there is a lot of hysteria about terrorism among our fearless leaders, and given that they have a history of lying when it comes to terrorism, I'd be more inclined to believe my neighbour.

    See above re: lying. If our governments didn't have a history of lying for the purpose of expediting their personal agendas, we might be more inclined to trust them.

    Nice attempt to forestall discussion though... I give it... 4/10.

    How many sets of personal rights are you willing to see violated to accomplish this? 1000? 100,000? 50 million?

    In the words of George Bernard Shaw: "We've already established what you are, madam. Now we're haggling over the price."
     
  18. madame_zora

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    As determined by whom? Do you not understand at all why we have laws, and that our president needs to be just as beholden to them as the rest of us? Perhaps you are retarded enough to trust that moron to do whatever HE thinks is right based on your idealogical belief that "if even one person is caught", all of us forfeiting our right to privacy was worth it, but that's simply NOT something that you, or anyone else has a right to decide.

    Again, you exhibit your complete lack of understanding of due process of law. We let known murderers off the hook when due process is determined to have been violated, if you diagree with this practise, you simply do not support the America in which you live. Fucktard.

    I am extremely angry at people like YOU voting away EVERYONE'S rights without so much as a "by your leave". You're afraid of your own shadow- great, we get it. Once our rights are gone, they're gone. *knocks on MMM's head* Hello? Is anyone in there? YOU try being honest for once, do you really think these laws will magically disappear when the war os over? If it wasn't so fucking sad to realise how many idiots like you think this way, it would be fucking hilarious. You don't see our republic disentigrating into a police state basically because you don't WANT to see it. You get the false sense of security you so desperately crave at the expence of any sort of accountability from our leaders. Bad trade.



    Oh, and it's not YOUR job to decide how anyone else should post, even a moderator. Worry about your own business, or is that too much to ask a republican?:rolleyes:
     
  19. rob_just_rob

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    No one?

    I got your back, DC.
     
  20. AlteredEgo

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    Yes. Where indeed? First, a reminder that moderators here are not and do not pretend to be unbiased in their political views. Who the hell is? I certainly don't want to be moderated by a fake person like that! All the mods are supposed to do here is keep it moving. It is not a popularity contest, they don't need your approval. If you don't like Lex's threads, ignore him. Won't make him no never mind, as my grandma says.

    Now on topic: The people you have asserted want security most have never said they want security. That is YOUR desire. Do not project it onto them. They, like me cherish freedom. And freedom is the farthest thing from security. Anyone who loves freedom- really adores it- knows that. You, on the other hand, would sacrifice freedom, and the blood of our forefathers for a measly peice of temporary, flimsy, insufficient security. People like you are ruining my country.
     
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