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Ear to the Ground

Judge Rules That Bush’s Illegal Wiretap Program Was Just That

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Posted on Mar 31, 2010
Flickr / HeatedGroundPhotography

Lagging a few years behind the liberal media, public opinion and common sense, the justice system has come to the conclusion that President Geroge W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program broke the rules.

Lawyers fighting the government on this sometimes have had to overcome extraordinary obstacles. Try proving your client was actually spied on by a secret program. Throw in a government, under both Bush and President Barack Obama, that cries “state secrets!” every time you get close.

It’s thanks only to a few missteps on Uncle Sam’s part that lawyers in this case were able to show heavy breathing on the other end of the line, so to speak.  —PZS

New York Times:

The ruling is the second time a federal judge has declared a program of wiretapping without warrants to be illegal. But a 2006 decision by a Detroit judge, Anna Diggs Taylor, was later reversed on the grounds that the plaintiffs in that case could not prove that they had been wiretapped and so lacked legal standing to sue. Several other lawsuits filed over the program have failed, or been dealt a severe blow, because of similar concerns over standing.

By contrast, the Al Haramain case was closely watched because the government inadvertently disclosed a classified document that made clear that the charity had been subjected to surveillance without warrants.

Although Judge Walker eventually ruled that the plaintiffs could not use that document to prove that they had standing, Mr. Eisenberg and six other lawyers working on the case were able to use public source documents — including a 2007 speech by an F.B.I. official who acknowledged that Al Haramain had been placed under surveillance — to prove the wiretapping.

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By rollzone, April 1, 2010 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

hello again. i do not believe nobody can see this is a small victory. the wiretapping and surveillance programs continue. when probable cause is collected, then it is presented to a judge for a warrant to collect evidence. this presumption that a judge was not already bought, only slows the process of information gathering as evidence. big brother can circumvent Constitutional law to control everything. every word on an internet is public domain. what you write ruins your own life.

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By Reverend Lauren Unruh, April 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So now that it is proved illegal, I can sue my brother in law. I have suffered
terrible damages.

Too bad I like the guy and do not want to ruin his life. What a miserable dilemma.

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By surfnow, April 1, 2010 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

Scarier than Bush-Cheney is the fact that the majority of the public doesn’t have a problem at all with wiretapping and pervasive electronic surveillance. The average American is convinced that “security” not freedom is the highest good, and most don’t have a clue as to the concept of “privacy.” Any attempt to explain Franklin’s warning about those who place such a value on “security” falls on deaf, dumb ears and that same moronic cliche-  ” well, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

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By surfnow, April 1, 2010 at 4:38 am Link to this comment

Scarier than Bush-Cheney is the fact that the majority of the public doesn’t have a problem at all with wiretapping and pervasive electronic surveillance. The average American is convinced that “security” not freedom is the highest good, and most don’t have a clue as to the concept of “privacy.” Any attempt to explain Franklin’s warning about those who place such a value on “security” falls on deaf, dumb ears and that same moronic cliche-  ” well, if you you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

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By bogi, April 1, 2010 at 4:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

President O’BushBama will have this decision overturned and/or ignore it.

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By ardee, April 1, 2010 at 2:30 am Link to this comment

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross.” Sinclair Lewis, ‘It Cant Happen Here’

It seems that our Attorney General has been muzzled by his boss. If laws are not respected or enforced then we have no laws at all, worse we set up a scenario wherein another leader can freely ignore our laws as he/she wills.

“A nation consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual’s morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation’s laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isnt a nation.
Milgren, in Spook Country by William Gibson

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By Rev. Lauren Unruh, March 31, 2010 at 10:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I KNOW there was illegal spying on citizens because they did it to me.

In fact, my computer savvy brother in law mysteriously got a big prize from the
Saudis, and then he installed a bug in my computer. That didn’t surprise me, I had
told everybody I was going to end the drug war. I expected to be bugged.

I could see it whenever they turned it on to do a screen grab of what I was writing.
Certain things and people were very interesting to them so it didn’t take long for
me to realize what this new glitch was.

I tried to tell the paper about it, but they were completely disinterested. That was
very disappointing to me, but not nearly as much as when I went to my
congresswoman about it and congress voted to legalize illegal spying! The only
thing worse than that was when they later voted to legalize torture.

Now, if it is recognized my brother in law was in fact helping an ILLEGAL spy
program, perhaps he could start taking openly about it.

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skulz fontaine's avatar

By skulz fontaine, March 31, 2010 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

Oh wow, Bush’s wiretapping was illegal? Well dang and go figure. Hmmm, what
about Bush’s illegal wars of naked aggression? What about all that icky Bushco
treason? What about the torture? The renditions? The detentions? Enron? Valerie
Plame? Yeah and big freaking deal. Bush’s wiretap program is illegal? What galling
bullshit.

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By gerard, March 31, 2010 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

Well I guess for the moment we can breathe a very small, restrained sigh of relief so far as illegal surveillance is concerned?  Or not?  Frankly, I’d feel better about it if the Obama Administration would take the responsibility to issue a widely circulated public statement of the exact specifics of this ruling,publicly reassert strong support for the right of habeas corpus and spell out in detail how we are being protected from “lapses.”

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RenZo's avatar

By RenZo, March 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

Unfortunately we should have recognized in 1978, when FISA was enacted by Congress, that wiretapping without warrant was illegal. I can’t remember who was threatening our sovreignity and security and nationhood back then; was it AlQaeda, Saddam, Freddie, the monster from the swamp lagoon, precocious children, mimes, unionized circus clowns…..?

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By rollzone, March 31, 2010 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

hello. does that mean the Patriot Act and Homeland Security can not proceed without a warrant? that is a reversal of intelligence gathering i could support. if you can convince a judge to sign a warrant, then it is a probable cause. without a warrant it is an invasion of privacy.

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