Thursday, August 17, 2006

Judge: Warrantless Wiretapping Unconstitutional

Take that, Bush!

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly listening to conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.

The government tried the old 'state secrets' defense, which it uses for practically every lawsuit aimed at challenging its nefarious methods, but that didn't fly with the judge because the program is public knowledge.

This will, of course, be appealed by the administration and is most likely headed for the Supreme Court where who knows what will happen? The judge also said the spying is to cease immediately, but it's unlikely the government will comply with that if it's being appealed.

The ACLU has the decision on its site.

Update: Lawyer Glenn Greenwald offers his analysis of the decision.

The Center for Constitutional Rights also has a case pending against the government regarding the warrantless wiretaps. According to Reuters, it is set to be heard in New York beginning September 5, 2006.

Update: The Justice Department had filed an appeal and press spokesperson Tony Snow offered the WH's reaction:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House "couldn't disagree more" with a federal judge's order on Thursday to halt the National Security Agency's program of domestic eavesdropping.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Bush administration's "Terrorist Surveillance Program" is "firmly grounded in law and regularly reviewed to make sure steps are taken to protect civil liberties."

Because of the appeal, the decision is stayed and the government can continue to use the program until a decision is reached.

Bill Frist and Harry Reid square off with dueling quotes.

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