Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Our Lady of the Constitution
A federal judge in Detroit accomplishes in one ruling what the entire, sycophant Congress has failed to do for five years: provide proper checks and balances to careening, rapidly accumlulated, unprecedented presidential power. In other words, this wonderful African-American jurist just bitch-slapped the POTUS. Via the Freep:

A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday stuck down the Bush Administrations’ domestic spying program in a decision that could affect the civil rights of millions of Americans and alter the course of the war on terror.

“… The public interest is clear in this matter. It is upholding our Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said in a 43-page ruling.

Taylor said the program, which the Administration created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks violates the separation of powers doctrine , the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Taylor permanently enjoined the government from intercepting international phone calls involving suspected Al Qaeda members without first obtaining search warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington.
The suit was filed by the ACLU (which will now be eviscerated by the authoritarians on the right, including La Limbaugh, despite their recent defense of His Drugginess...) and it claimed that the warrantless wiretapping of Americans and others on U.S. soil violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.

It's one of five lawsuits all making their way to the courts.

The text of the ruling can be found here.

The Bush administration, beginning with their trained attack pop, Al Gonzalez (who continues to hold the unique distinction of being an attorney general who appears to have no knowledge whatsoever of the law...) have wasted no time rolling out the talking points (al-Qaida, gonna get us, London terr'rists, fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here ... yada yada...) and the Authoritarian faithful are in full apoplexy, as would be expected (and of course they're playing the BRITONS GONNA BOMB OUR PLANES WITH BOTTLED WATER!!!! James Bamford, the first reporter to write about the NSA back in 1982, and Iraq war afficionado Christopher Hitchens, the bedrunken, unlikely defender of the Bush administration of late, but who said the following upon joining the suit:

Although I am named in this suit on my own behalf, I am motivated to join it by concerns well beyond my own. I have been frankly appalled by the discrepant and contradictory positions taken by the Administration in this matter. First, the entire existence of the NSA's monitoring was a secret, and its very disclosure denounced as a threat to national security.

Then it was argued that Congress had already implicitly granted the power to conduct warrantless surveillance on the territory of the United States, which seemed to make the reason for the original secrecy more rather than less mysterious. (I think we may take it for granted that our deadly enemies understand that their communications may be intercepted.)

This makes it critically important that we establish an understood line, and test the cases in which it may or may not be crossed.

Let me give a very direct instance of what I mean. We have recently learned that the NSA used law enforcement agencies to track members of a pacifist organisation in Baltimore. This is, first of all, an appalling abuse of state power and an unjustified invasion of privacy, uncovered by any definition of "national security" however expansive. It is, no less importantly, a stupid diversion of scarce resources from the real target. It is a certainty that if all the facts were known we would become aware of many more such cases of misconduct and waste.

We are, in essence, being asked to trust the state to know best. What reason do we have for such confidence? The agencies entrusted with our protection have repeatedly been shown, before and after the fall of 2001, to be conspicuous for their incompetence and venality. No serious reform of these institutions has been undertaken or even proposed: Mr George Tenet (whose underlings have generated leaks designed to sabotage the Administration's own policy of regime-change in Iraq, and whose immense and unconstitutionally secret budget could not finance the infiltration of a group which John Walker Lindh could join with ease) was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. ...

Quite. But don't get too excited, civil liberties fans. I predict one of two things will happen, sooner or later. The sooner would be the sycophant Congress, led by Chief Presidential Boot Polisher Pat Roberts of Kansas (chair of the ironically-named "Intelligence committee") and somtimey oversight czarito Arlen Specter (Judiciary chair). The Congress will likely hasten to denude itself of any pretension of equality with the executive and hastily subordinate itself to the prez by passing legislation making the illegal surveillance program legal.

The later: Bush's newly crafted Roberts Supreme Court will gather Clarence Thomas, his shoe-shine bag, Sam Alito and Tony Scalia's collective combovers and smack down the Detroit judge faster than you can say "yessa, masta President..."

Such is the state of the Republic, at this stage in the "war on terra..."

And speaking of "terra..." I wonder how long it will be before Judge Taylor (who became the first Black woman judge to be appointed in the Eastern District of Michigan in 1979 -- yes, the Carter 1979 ... which will REALLY cheese off the authoritarians...) gets her first racism laced, bilious death threat from a Little Green Footballer?

Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, , surveillance, spying, Privacy, eavesdropping
posted by JReid @ 5:52 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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