Court Rules Against State Secrets

In legal issues/law/courts, President Barack Obama on April 18, 2009 by Editor Z

A bit of good news. Earlier this week it was revealed that those NSA wiretaps that Bush/Cheney told us were only used to monitor terrorists, were surprise, more widely employed then previously acknowledged; amassing huge amounts of data on phone conversations and e-mails of both Foreign and American conversations. Even spying on an unnamed member of congress.

Last Summer the Bush/Cheney administration as well as their party Aron boys in the congress along with many Democrats (including then Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama) supported. It renewed a version of FISA that was much more lax and granted many telecom companies who used this retroactive immunity. Many civil liberties activists opposed the decision, but many of those including Obama said those who were wronged by any surveillance or had their phone records seized wrongly could always file a law suit.

Well earlier this week the administration said people couldn’t even do that. But according to Marc Ambinder, a new court ruling could knock down the Obama administration’s rationale.

The Obama administration suffered a bit of a legal setback this afternoon: a federal judge in California rejected the administration’s assertion of the state secrets privilege in the civil suit brought by an Islamic charity that was allegedly subjected to illegal NSA surveillance. The order, in Al-Haramain v. Bush, requires the government to come up with a way to safeguard the classified information it plans to present in the NSA’s defense by May 8. Judge Vaughn Walker noted that the government has elsewhere made provisions for the discussion of Top Secret/SCI information. It so happens that the plaintiffs attorneys have been cleared to that level. Walker crafted his order narrowly to prevent the government from appealing it immediately to the Ninth Circuit. On May 8, it will be interesting to see whether the administration presents a plan for safeguarding classified info — or whether it re-asserts the state secrets privilege.

By the way now that the Right wing who supported many of these secretive and surveillance measures all along now that they feel they have been wrongly targeted, it would be nice if they could actually stand up against these policies no matter who exercises them. I mean its not like they were screaming from the rooftops with outrage, when the Department of Homeland Security, watched Quakers or peace protesters making Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches as threats. Somehow they forgot that they wouldn’t always be in power and that each President’s policies and decisions set precident.



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