Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Bush's wiretapping policy

Some real bad news to report from the whole "freedom", "consitution", and "privacy" front. The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by the ACLU to President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. In the simplest of terms, the court essentially is saying if you can prove you were wiretapped then you have a case, but, because the program is secret, no one can prove they were...therefore there's no reason to go to court! My head hurts!

It goes without saying that this represents a real blow to our nation, its people, and its laws. Before I get to the Los Angeles Times article detailing the decision, I highly recommend you check out this clip of Keith Olbermann and Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley discussing the news...really informative.

Now to the LA Times:

The court's refusal to hear the case is a victory for the White House and the president's bold use of his powers as commander in chief. Though not a ruling on the legality of Bush's wiretapping policy, it all but forecloses a successful legal attack on it before the president leaves office early next year. In the meantime, Congress and the White House are negotiating new rules for electronic eavesdropping.


Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union went to court, hoping to win a ruling declaring that Bush had overstepped his powers. "The president is bound by the laws that Congress enacts. He may with disagree with those laws, but he may not disobey them," they said in the appeal to the Supreme Court.

But Bush's lawyers successfully invoked two legal doctrines making it difficult to challenge the government's anti-terrorism policies.

First, they said, challengers must show that they had their phone calls or e-mails intercepted. Otherwise, they have no "standing" to sue because they have no injury to complain of.

Second, the government said, the entire program was secret, and under the "state secrets privilege," plaintiffs cannot obtain information on whether they were targeted for surveillance. When combined, the two doctrines make it almost impossible for most challengers to win a hearing in court.

"They say you need certain information to proceed. And that is exactly the information the government won't give you," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Program. "If you accept these doctrines, this program is entirely immune from judicial review. It's hard to be optimistic today."

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

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