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.