Thursday, August 17, 2006

Buh-bye NSA Wiretapping?

Well.. it was bound to happen eventually… someone in a position that could do something about it would eventually see AND pay attention to that man behind the curtain…

That time has come…

A U.S. District Judge has struck down the NSA wiretapping program in a suit that had been brought by the ACLU (meh) and has ordered an immediate halt to the NSA’s wiretapping.

Anna Diggs Taylor rendered her verdict today, and a quick peruse of Judge Taylor’s decision shows that she has categorically AND unequivocally rejected the plethora of theories putforth by the Bush administration in defense of the program. Defenses that included stating that the President had the inherent authority to conduct the wiretaps as well as the whole “state secrets” angle they tried to cover themselves with.

Many things can be gleaned from the Judge’s decision, but some of the most obvious are that Judge Taylor found that the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program violated the Fourth Amendment. From the decision:

“Accordingly, the fourth amendment . . . requires reasonableness in all searches. It also requires prior warrants for any reasonable search based upon prior existing probable cause . . . and the interposition of a mutual magistrate between executive branch enforcement officers and citizens.”

Additionaly, Judge Taylor found that the administration has been violating FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) for the last five years, again reading from the decision:

“In enacting FISA, Congress made numerous concessions to stated executive needs. They include delaying the applications for warrants . . . for several types of exigencies, reducing the probable cause requirement . . . and extension of . . . approved wiretaps from thirty days to a ninety day term. All of the above Congressional concessions to Executive need and to the exigencies of our present situation . . . have been futile. The wiretapping program here in litigation has undisputably been continued for at least five years, it has undisputably been implemented without regard to FISA . . . and obviously in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The President of the United States is himself created by that Constitution.”

Doing it as though she was picking apart a fantasy football draft sheet (whaaaaaat???), the judge’s stance on each section of the administration's specious arguments that the Bush administration forwarded to support its unconstitutional behavior and demolishes them. Readers of Glenn Greenwald and Armando at this site will be familiar with the arguments the judge adopts. For example, Judge Diggs Taylor wrote:

Judge Taylor wasn’t done… she also took aim at the Bush administration's ridiculous arguments that the President had the authority to violate FISA via the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) and Duby’a inane argument that Article II of the Constitution provides the President the power to become a King during wartime.

What does all this mean?

Well, it’s a little convoluted (and I’m sure the administration is already working on ways to get around it), but to sum it up in simple, easy to understand terms; it’s a demoralizing (for them anyway) body-blow and a resounding denunciation of the Bush administration's attempt to overturn our Constitution.

And it should also be said that this is, in no way, the final word. This is merely the opionion of a district court and the administration is already in the process of appealing.

Having said that… it’s still an encouraging first strike on the adminstration's outrageous and unconstitutional behavior…

Is this the final buh-bye of the NSA Wiretapping?

Stay tuned…

No comments: